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The Feminine Leadership Mystique

NEW YORK – In a single week earlier this month, Jill Abramson, the first woman to serve as Executive Editor of the New York Times, resigned under duress, and Natalie Nougayrède resigned as Editor-in-Chief of France’s leading newspaper, Le Monde, complaining in an open letter of having been undermined. What, if anything, do these high-profile dismissals tell us about women in senior workplace positions?

The Times announced Abramson’s departure in a front-page story filled with barbs and swipes, the kind of piece that even the most ineffectual senior male editor never sees in print upon his dismissal from a job. Abramson fought back assertively in a brief battle for public perception, with someone having leaked details of an $80,000-plus gap between her salary and that of her male predecessor in the same role.