Cuomo resignation: The women who rise after powerful men fall

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is the latest man forced out of power in the United States by #MeToo claims that are reshaping the political, business and media landscape.

New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul pictured here during an opening ceremony on the first day of the Coney Island parks reopening, in April, will become the first woman to be governor of New York after Andrew Cuomo steps down later this month [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

As powerful men fall, women are increasingly stepping up to take their places, often elevating a brand or business in the process.

Such is the trend in the United States, where the #MeToo movement continues to force politics, business and media to take sexual harassment claims seriously, rather than sweep them under the rug.

This week, outgoing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo joins a long line of men whose departure from power in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal created space for a woman to ascend.

In 2017, a surge of investigations, lawsuits and reports of sexual misconduct led to more than 200 powerful men in the US losing their jobs. By mid-2018, nearly half of their replacements were women, according to an analysis by The New York Times.

While the #MeToo movement has helped boost female representation from the upper echelons of government to the C-suite, there is still a way to go to close the gender power gap.

The number of women running Fortune 500 companies climbed to 41 this year, according to the latest annual list compiled by Fortune Media. That is a record, but still miles away from gender parity.

Here are a few high-profile men who lost their positions amid misconduct scandals, and the women who replaced them.


Out: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

In: New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned from office after he was accused in a report released this month of harassing 11 women. At the time of resignation, Cuomo was facing impeachment proceedings, but it’s unclear if those will continue. If impeachment is successful, then Cuomo would be unable to run for state office in the future. He could also get slapped with civil lawsuits from his alleged victims.

Cuomo was replaced by Kathy Hochul, the current New York lieutenant governor, who will become the first woman to hold the highest office in the state when Cuomo formally steps down on August 24. Hochul, a Democrat, has served as lieutenant governor since 2015 and was previously a federal congressional representative. She won her congressional seat in a special election after her predecessor, Chris Lee, resigned after he allegedly sent shirtless photos to a woman he met online while currently married.

Out: Today co-anchor Matt Lauer

In: Today co-anchor Hoda Kotb

Matt Lauer, the former co-anchor of the Today show, was fired in November 2017 over allegations of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace”. Allegations included sexual assault in Lauer’s office. Lauer was replaced by Hoda Kotb alongside co-host Savannah Guthrie. Kotb originally filled in as an emergency replacement, a move made permanent in 2018 partially due to her high ratings.

Out: PBS host Charlie Rose

In: PBS host Christiane Amanpour

Emmy-award winner Charlie Rose was host of Charlie Rose on PBS. The programme was cancelled in 2017 amid allegations of sexual harassment, including “inappropriate and unwanted physical contact”. The show was replaced by Amanpour & Company, a one-hour public affairs show led by Christiane Amanpour, chief international anchor for CNN. The show has been on pause this summer as Amanpour is being treated for ovarian cancer.

Out: Ed Razek, former chief marketing officer (CMO) of Victoria’s Secret

In: Martha Pease, current CMO of Victoria’s Secret

Former Chief Marketing Officer of Victoria’s Secret Ed Razek resigned in 2019 amid backlash over comments on transgender and plus-size models. After his resignation, an investigation also unearthed complaint allegations about inappropriate behaviour, including touching and groping models.

Razek was replaced by Martha Pease. Pease led an initiative called the VS Collective, featuring cultural icons such as football star Megan Rapinoe rather than models.

Out: Eric Schneiderman, former New York attorney general

In: Letitia James, current New York attorney general

Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned after allegations of physical assault from four women. Schneiderman had built a platform on the #MeToo movement, championing the fight against sexual harassment. One of his hallmark moves during his tenure was taking legal action against film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Schneiderman was replaced by interim Attorney General Barbara Underwood. Today, the attorney general — an elected position in New York — is Letitia James, a Democrat who won the office in 2018. She was endorsed by Cuomo. This summer, she spearheaded an independent report into harassment allegations against Cuomo, which led to his resignation.

Out: Producer Scott Rudin

In: Producer Kate Horton

Scott Rudin, a film and stage producer, stepped back from his role in April 2021 due to allegations of workplace bullying and abuse. Charges regarding Rudin’s behaviour did not touch on sexual harassment, but rather on a toxic and fear-filled workplace. One incident recounted was Rudin allegedly slamming a computer monitor on the hand of an assistant, who required medical attention.

He has been replaced by Kate Horton as the producer for the upcoming Broadway revival of The Music Man. Horton previously ran the Royal Court Theatre in London.

Out: Troy Young, former president of Hearst

In: Debi Chirichella, current president of Hearst

Troy Young, president of publishing and media company Hearst, resigned in July 2020 amid charges of creating a toxic workplace culture that included allegedly asking a pregnant female employee if the baby was his while passing her in the employee cafeteria.

He was replaced by Debi Chirichella, who had been Hearst’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. While her initial appointment had been as acting president, she was appointed president in November 2020.

Source: Al Jazeera