Women Bemoaned 'Hostile Workplace' to Obama

The president then made a conscious effort to improve things
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2011 7:35 AM CDT
This official photo shows the president meeting with female advisers to discuss their role in the administration, Nov. 5, 2009.   (The White House/Pete Souza)

(Newser) – Women felt so frustrated in the early months of the Obama administration, that they eventually complained to the president himself, prompting a November 2009 dinner in which Obama listened to their grievances and vowed to improve things, the Washington Post reports. Female staffers’ discontent is a major point in Ron Suskind’s controversial new book, Confidence Men, which quotes Anita Dunn as saying, “This place would be in court for a hostile workplace ... to women.”

Dunn says that quote’s been taken out of context. Suskind let the Post listen to the tape, and in it Dunn precedes that quote by saying, “If it weren’t for the president…” Christina Romer, another staffer quoted complaining in the book, tells the Post that “there has always been a lot of testosterone in the West Wing,” but that “when problems arose, the president worked hard to fix them.” Since that 2009 meeting, Obama has made a conscious effort to promote more women, and complaints have subsided.

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