How Donald Trump Talked to This Reporter Highlights a Common Workplace Issue for Women

June 28th 2017

Almie Rose

President Donald Trump praised a female reporter on Tuesday — not for doing her job well, but for her looks, sparking discussions on Twitter about gender inequality in the workplace.

Donald Trump

The president was taking a phone call from Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar when he was seemingly distracted by Caitriona Perry, the Washington correspondent and U.S. bureau chief for Irlend's RTÉ News,

"We have a lot of your Irish press watching us," Trump said on the phone. He then pointed at Perry and summoned her to his desk with a "come hither" finger gesture. "Where are you from?" he asked her, noting to Prime Minister Varadkar, "beautiful Irish press."

Perry approached Trump and introduced herself, giving her credentials.

"She has a nice smile on her face," Trump told the prime minister and the room. "I bet she treats you well."

Perry, who posted video of the incident on Twitter, called it "bizarre"; one can even see a faint eye roll as she walks away from his desk after being singled out.

Why is this inappropriate?

For one, Trump would never point at a male journalist, ask him to approach his desk, and then praise his "beautiful smile" to a foreign leader. This is something that happens to women, even when, as with Perry, they're just trying to do their jobs.

New York Times bestselling author Cristin Harber responded to Perry's tweet:

Another user chimed in:

Author Kevin Chamberlin put it a little more bluntly:

Women are still battling sexism in the workplace.

Reducing a woman to a beautiful smile is one example of sexism, and the "little things" like that, when added up, amount to a hostile work environment. 

On June 13, David Bonderman, who was on Uber's board, made a sexist joke during a company-wide meeting.

As ATTN: reported on June 13, "At the meeting, Huffington mentioned that Uber was adding another woman to the board, Wan Ling Martello, and referenced data showing that 'when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board.' Bonderman replied: 'Actually what it shows is it’s much likely to be more talking.'"

Bonderman resigned later that day.

It isn't only about bad jokes; a woman alleges she was fired from her job last week for not wearing a bra.



In March, a Twitter thread from writer and editor Martin R. Schneider went viral for his "experiment." Schneider and his female co-worker, Nicole Pieri, switched email signatures so that Schneider could see first hand how his female co-worker was treated by clients vs. how clients treated him.

When Schnieder switched back to his email, he noticed a stark difference:

All of these incidents show the subtle (and not so subtle ways) in which women are treated differently at work than men are.

Are all companies and workplaces like this? No, probably not. But did the president of the United States, who admitted that when he sees an attractive woman, "I just start kissing them," single out a reporter in a meeting for being attractive? Yes, he did.