Having decided it was time, after 10 years, for me to leave The Jackson (TN) Sun, I started putting out feelers in the spring of 1985.
Just before I flew out to Wichita to interview for a job I would eventually take, I got a call from an editor at The Charlotte News, who wanted me to come there before making up my mind. By the end of the conversation, we had made travel arrangements for right after the Kansas trip. (But then days later, the editor called me back to cancel. The hiring freeze word had just gone out; the afternoon paper would close later that year.)
It was a fairly lengthy call. When I got off the phone, my wife asked who I’d been talking to.
“An editor in Charlotte who wants me to go there instead of Wichita.”
“Was it a woman?” she asked.
“Yeah… how could you tell?”
“You were enjoying yourself,” she said.
She knows me very well. Most of my career, my closest working relationships — certainly most of the really enjoyable ones — have been with women. (One of my best friends at the Jackson paper once referred to herself as one of “Brad’s women.” Some might have misunderstood that, but all within hearing knew what she meant.) I don’t know why. Nothing against guys. I’ve had a great working partnership with plenty of guys, such as Robert Ariail, as I described back here. But who’s to say? — maybe if we’d also had a cartoonist who was a woman, I might have an even closer partnership with her. Or not. I never set out to work more closely with women. It just keeps happening.
Earlier today I mentioned the Power Failure project. While I worked with people from across the newsroom off and on during that year, there was a core group of three women, from start to finish, without whom I couldn’t have gotten it done. One of them was assigned to the project mainly to keep me on track, to make sure that all my theories and plans and ideas were actually translated into articles and graphics and photos, on time. She was essential to the project becoming something that you could hold in your hand.
And anyone who had occasion to observe the portion of my career spent at The State knows how important was the partnership I had with Cindi Scoppe, from when I first supervised her as a 23-year-old reporter in the late ’80s through those last 12 years on the editorial board.
Anyway, I share all this to explain why I thought this piece in The Wall Street Journal today was such a crock:
Picking Someone for a Project? Chances Are, He’ll Look Like You
Here’s at least one instance of parity among the sexes: Men and women are equally biased when it comes to choosing work partners, a new study suggests.
When selecting colleagues to collaborate with on a daily basis, males and females are both significantly more likely to choose someone of their own gender, according to an analysis by Innovisor, a Copenhagen-based management consulting firm…
“We prefer to collaborate with people who look just like us,” says Jeppe Hansgaard, a managing partner at Innovisor. “That’s a management issue, because you want your employees to collaborate with the right people, not just people who look like them.”…
Maybe the piece set me off particularly because I’d just read (part of) this distressing report telling me that the Obama campaign plans to stress Identity Politics more in this election. But every time I read anything about how people choose to associate with “people like them,” it ticks me off. I like to think people are broader than that.