Veteran TV journalist Katie Couric recounted Thursday facing demeaning descriptions and “gross comments” during her career.
Couric spoke at consumer products maker Procter & Gamble’s Cincinnati headquarters in a forum on the state of women in the workplace. The #WeSeeEqual forum took place amid a wave of sexual misconduct claims against prominent figures in entertainment, politics and the media — including her former NBC “Today Show” co-host, Matt Lauer.
“I’ve been very fortunate in terms of not being subjected to a lot of sexual misconduct, but certainly I have been subjected to widely held attitudes about women, about compartmentalizing women,” Couric said when asked about career obstacles by Carolyn Tastad, president of P&G’s North America business group, in the forum’s keynote discussion.
Couric cited the frequent descriptions of her as “cute” and “perky,” which she found “marginalizing.” She joked that on her tombstone, it will say “Perky No More.”
She also recalled public critiques of her clothing when she began hosting “CBS Evening News,” and a jarring moment early in her career when she walked into a meeting at CNN and an executive said of her to others around the table: “She’s successful because of her hard work, intelligence and breast size.”
Couric said with support from her supervisor, a male anchor, she wrote to the executive and he soon called her, “dripping with apologies.”
Couric described the #MeToo movement as like “a long-dormant volcano that’s erupting” and said it’s important for men to be part of open discussions on gender issues, on how to make things better. But she said she thinks it “just feels almost too red-hot” for some to have such discussions publicly yet.
Couric has said she had been unaware of the misconduct allegations that led to Lauer’s ouster last year.