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David Letterman’s Show: Late-Night Sexual Harassment & Chauvanism Dominates the Comedy

February 8, 2010
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The Huffington Post published an article about the reporting of a hostile work environment at David Letterman’s show.

These seven women have spent a total of 17 years on staff combined. By extrapolation, male writers have racked up a collective 378 years writing jokes for Dave (based on an average writing room of 14 men, the size of the current Late Show staff).

Scovell said that, for her, the “Late Show” was a “hostile work environment,” due to the sexual politics of the office:

Without naming names or digging up decades-old dirt, let’s address the pertinent questions. Did Dave hit on me? No. Did he pay me enough extra attention that it was noted by another writer? Yes. Was I aware of rumors that Dave was having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Was I aware that other high-level male employees were having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Did these female staffers have access to information and wield power disproportionate to their job titles? Yes. Did that create a hostile work environment? Yes. Did I believe these female staffers were benefiting professionally from their personal relationships? Yes. Did that make me feel demeaned? Completely. Did I say anything at the time? Sadly, no.

Here’s what I did: I walked away from my dream job.

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Letterman Show Hires Female Writer, Jill Goodwin

Huffington Post |  Danny Shea First Posted: 02- 4-10 10:19 AM   |   Updated: 02- 4-10 10:31 AM

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David Letterman

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Score one for female comedy writers: David Letterman’s “Late Show” has added a woman to its writing staff.

The “Late Show” has promoted Jill Goodwin, a writer’s assistant and longtime staff member, to its writing team.

Comedy writers’ rooms are notoriously male-dominated, a fact that was brought into the spotlight again recently by Nell Scovell, a former Letterman writer who wrote a piece for Vanity Fair about the hyper-sexualized atmosphere she experienced in the writers’ room.

Scovell calculated that, in 27 years, Letterman’s “Late Night” and “Late Show” had hired only seven female writers:

These seven women have spent a total of 17 years on staff combined. By extrapolation, male writers have racked up a collective 378 years writing jokes for Dave (based on an average writing room of 14 men, the size of the current Late Show staff).

Scovell said that, for her, the “Late Show” was a “hostile work environment,” due to the sexual politics of the office:

Without naming names or digging up decades-old dirt, let’s address the pertinent questions. Did Dave hit on me? No. Did he pay me enough extra attention that it was noted by another writer? Yes. Was I aware of rumors that Dave was having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Was I aware that other high-level male employees were having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Did these female staffers have access to information and wield power disproportionate to their job titles? Yes. Did that create a hostile work environment? Yes. Did I believe these female staffers were benefiting professionally from their personal relationships? Yes. Did that make me feel demeaned? Completely. Did I say anything at the time? Sadly, no.

Here’s what I did: I walked away from my dream job.

Read Scovell’s full piece at VanityFair.com.

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