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Julie Chen Interview on Women in the Workplace

Why I’ve Always Loved Working With Women

Julie Chen is the host of Big Brother and The Talk, both on CBS.

Working with women really has been a theme throughout my career. I have always had strong female figures to learn from and look up to. When I left The Early Show — which is now called CBS This Morning — there was a 10-year period where it was three female news anchors with one man. The behind-the-scenes team at the morning news where I worked was mostly women. Two of my first bosses were women. A lot of news producers are women. Maybe because, growing up, we were watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Murphy Brown. Everyone wants to grow up to be one of those two women.

I think the most refreshing thing about working with women is that there's this girl club mentality when we're together as a group. It's like this exclusive club where we cackle and laugh, and bond, and gossip, and we talk about gross things that guys don't want to talk about. Any time we've had a guy guest co-host at The Talk table, it's just different. It's not as fun, because he can't relate to the things we want to talk about.

"We always got asked questions when we did group interviews in the early years of The Talk that played into sterotypes about women being catty or competitive."

My advice to young women on how to support each other in the workplace is simple: you're going to win more people who are rooting for you if you show support and kindness to others. I think a lot of women, when they're young — and they're insecure, and they're just finding out how to deal with office politics — make the assumption that other women are cutthroat and trying to get ahead of them. I remember early on in my career, I had a young reporter — Tracy Smith — fill in for me when I was anchoring the CBS Morning News. And the next day, I went into work, I said, "Hey, you did a really good job." And I really meant it. To this day, we are friends.

From right to left: Julie Chen with her fellow hosts on The Talk, Aisha Tyler, Sharon Osbourne, Sara Gilbert, and Sheryl Underwood

We always got asked questions when we did group interviews in the early years of The Talk that played into stereotypes about women being catty or competitive. It was like people thought they were going to catch us. Like: "Who takes the longest in the makeup chair?" or "Who comes in the most who woke up on the wrong side of the bed?" OK. But after about four or five years of that, we were incredulous to still get questions like: "How have you guys managed to get along?" In some ways, it was a fair question. We see all too often on social media things like "Katy Perry versus Taylor Swift," or the housewives flipping over tables and throwing a drink in someone's face. Stereotypes are not made up out of thin air. They're based on some grain of truth. But when you keep getting asked four or five years in, it becomes insulting. I think we took the high road. The proof is in the pudding; you see us on TV every day. The camera doesn't lie. But for the first two or three years, people thought it was an act. Finally, people stopped asking, because they saw there was no story there.

"I feel like we are helping break stereotypes on a daily basis. . . by showing that we are a fun, diverse group of women to hang out with, who are not catty and petty and small-minded and insecure."

I've learned so much from the other hosts on The Talk. I've always been an open-minded person, but Sara has opened up my mind to a lot of LGBT issues I was always accepting of, but never had the advantage to see through that lens. I'd like to say that Aisha's quick wit has been contagious; I think she has raised my game in terms of coming up with the short, quippy, witty comments in life. Sheryl has opened my eyes to things in the black community and has schooled me a lot on black culture. And the hardships Sharon's gone through with her marriage have taught me life is not black and white.

When I saw everyone come together when Sharon was dealing with the rumors of Ozzy cheating, it made me feel fortunate. Not just that I work with woman, but this group of women in this type of job, where your real-life problems are sorted out with your coworkers, your viewers, on social media.

I feel like I am in a lucky, fortunate, and unique position because of who I work with and what I do for a living. Every day we set an example. Although lots of men like our show, our viewers are mostly women. I feel like we are helping break stereotypes on a daily basis, chipping away at them by showing that we are a fun, diverse group of women to hang out with, who are not catty and petty and small-minded and insecure. I love working with women — because no one understands a woman like another woman.

As told to Lindsay Miller

Image Source: CBS
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