Too Hot for Harvard?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 18, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight, more gender problems at Harvard University. You may remember its president said women may not be as competent as men in math and science. He almost got fired over that.

And now a librarian at the college claims she was denied promotions because of race and gender issues. A federal jury ruled against Desiree Goodwin, but she joins us now from Washington, along with her attorney, Richard Clarey.

Miss Goodwin, what is your contention? And you worked at Harvard for a number of years. You say you've been passed over many times for promotion. Why?

DESIREE GOODWIN, SUED HARVARD FOR DISCRIMINATION: For reasons from what I have been told, very superficial reasons related to my appearance.

O'REILLY: OK, well, get more specific. What...

GOODWIN: I can be more specific.

O'REILLY: You look fine to me, you're sitting there. You look like you could be a librarian anywhere. What was — what's the matter with your appearance at Harvard?

GOODWIN: I was told that people saw me as, quote, "just a pretty girl," that they didn't — they would not consider hiring me because they might have seen me in some of my sexier outfits and they might have heard about things about me through the grapevine, reasons completely unrelated to my qualifications.

O'REILLY: Now, when you say sexy outfits, do you wear halter tops and stuff, short skirts to the library at Harvard?

GOODWIN: Well, sort of like what I'm wearing now, except without the jacket. This is a — what they would consider a low-cut blouse.

O'REILLY: OK. So that's — is that as provocative as you get or are there other outfits that you wear?

GOODWIN: Years ago, I have worn a few short skirts, but I don't wear anything that's really out of the ordinary from what other people wear in general, and people wear a variety of different types of clothing.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, counselor, you lost the case. The jury heard it in federal court. Why did you lose it?

RICHARD CLAREY, DESIREE GOODWIN'S ATTORNEY: Well, we brought our case in the state court, but Harvard removed it to the federal court, which had profound consequences for us that were not happy ones.

In the middle of the case, we were the recipients of a rule by the judge that forbade us to bring into the courtroom and let the jury see the successful candidates for the jobs that Desiree applied for. We wanted the jury to see the contrast between Desiree and the people who actually got the jobs.

O'REILLY: And why did the judge say you couldn't do that? I mean, it's an imposition on their privacy, I guess. Was that what he ruled?

CLAREY: He didn't explain his ruling.

O'REILLY: All right. Now Desiree, do you...

GOODWIN: The timing is a little unusual, too.

O'REILLY: Well, maybe not, though, I mean, you have to understand when you bring other people in and you're almost putting them on trial, the judge is going to say look, if you haven't proved your case so far, I might not do that. — I'm just putting myself in his position.

But you feel there's a racial component to this, too, Ms. Goodwin?

GOODWIN: Well, one of the things that was said to me was that I should have no trouble finding a job elsewhere, because the first thing that people look for is a qualified black person.

O'REILLY: Well, would that be a negative to you? I mean...

GOODWIN: I just don't think it's true, because, as in my situation here proves, even if my education and my experience far surpasses my white competitors, then the weight shifts from the education to the — and experience — to something else. It shifts to my appearance.

O'REILLY: OK. So you took that as a slight. I don't know if it was meant to be one or not.

GOODWIN: Well, I just have never known that to be true. I haven't seen examples of that.

O'REILLY: All right. Fair enough. But I don't know if the person that said that to you meant it in a derogatory way. I would have had to have seen it. You still work there, right, Ms. Goodwin? You're still in the library?


O'REILLY: How is it? Is that an uncomfortable situation for you?

GOODWIN: It's — it's no more uncomfortable than it was in the past. And I try to just focus on my work and not on personalities and just do the best work I can. It's very helpful to me that I work a lot with the public, so in my daily interactions, they are not limited exclusively to the staff. And I do in general have a pretty harmonious working relationships with my co-workers. The only...

O'REILLY: So this hasn't blown back on you in any negative way, this lawsuit against the university?

GOODWIN: I think that I'd have to be careful in general, but I don't perceive any more of a difference now than before.

O'REILLY: OK. Has this lawsuit done you any good? You obviously lost it, Ms. Goodwin. Did it do you any good at all?

GOODWIN: I think it energized me. It made me — it really helped me to speak out and go the distance, even if I lost.

O'REILLY: OK. Ms. Goodwin, counselor, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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