The two sides of “Why are you still here?”

Politico’s piece about NYT Executive Editor Jill Abramson is – rightly – causing a storm over double standards in the treatment of women in power. Emily Bell’s piece pins the problem quite precisely.

My one observation on this is to compare how Politico characterises Abramson:

In one meeting, Abramson was upset with a photograph that was on the homepage. Rather than asking for a change to be made after the meeting, she turned to the relevant editor and, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting, said bluntly, “I don’t know why you’re still here. If I were you, I would leave now and change the photo.”

with coverage of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s handling of an analogous situation:

Tim Cook arrived at Apple in 1998 from Compaq Computer. He was a 16-year computer-industry veteran – he’d worked for IBM for 12 of those years – with a mandate to clean up the atrocious state of Apple’s manufacturing, distribution, and supply apparatus. One day back then, he convened a meeting with his team, and the discussion turned to a particular problem in Asia.

“This is really bad,” Cook told the group. “Someone should be in China driving this.” Thirty minutes into that meeting Cook looked at Sabih Khan, a key operations executive, and abruptly asked, without a trace of emotion, “Why are you still here?”

Khan, who remains one of Cook’s top lieutenants to this day, immediately stood up, drove to San Francisco International Airport, and, without a change of clothes, booked a flight to China with no return date, according to people familiar with the episode. The story is vintage Cook: demanding and unemotional.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

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