The Obama White House is a “hostile” environment for women even though they occupy many of the senior positions in the West Wing, according to a new book.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind interviewed more than 200 people, including Obama, for “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and The Education of A President,” which will be released Sept. 20.
The book portrays a White House in which Obama struggled with a divided group of advisers, some of whom he didn’t initially consider for their high-profile roles. And top female advisers said they felt left out of key meetings or overpowered by their male counterparts.
“This place would be in court for a hostile workplace,” former White House communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying, according to the Washington Post, which obtained a copy. “Because it actually fits all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.”
Dunn told the newspaper in an interwiew on Friday that she told Suskin “point blank” that the White House “was not a hostile environment.”
“The president is someone who when he goes home at night he goes home to a house full of very strong women,” she said. “He values having strong women around him.”
But a top female official blamed Obama for leading a boys’ club.
“The president has a real woman problem. The idea of the boys’ club being just Larry and Rahm isn’t fair,” she told Suskind, referring to former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers, former chairman of the National Economic Council. Obama “was just as responsible himself.”
Christina Romer, former head of the Council of Economic advisers, described one meeting for Suskind in which she was “boxed out” by Summers, the Washington Post reported.
“I felt like a piece of meat,” she said.
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