Whether or not you like her, I think it’s safe to say that Katie Couric is a badass woman. Before you disagree, let’s first define the term. A “badass” is someone who’s educated, opinionated, driven and not afraid to use his or her voice. It’s someone who stands up for those who’ve been silenced and strives to cause positive change in the world. Wouldn’t you agree?
In Couric’s 37 years as a journalist, she promoted gender equality in the workplace before it was cool; she won a Peabody Award for her series Confronting Colon Cancer (after airing her own colonoscopy on TV); she shined light on topics that were often dismissed as “women’s problems,” like military sexual assault; and she questioned some of the most powerful, influential people in history.
Sounds pretty badass to us, which makes her the perfect person to weigh in on two issues we’ve seen increasingly monopolize awards season conversations, dominate presidential debates, divide many beloved American traditions and spawn numerous hashtags, all aimed at debating the status of our country’s race relations and equality discrepancies.
“All we can do is try to open people’s eyes and make them more sensitive to it,” Couric said of gender equality when SheKnows caught up with her at the 2016 Makers Conference. “I think people are starting to understand that feminism is the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. I’m all about the equality — I want men and women to work together, and I think that it’s all about equality, and we should remember that.”
Couric agreed that diversity is a huge issue that still has a ways to go. Some have complained that conversations over the recent awards shows and Super Bowl performances have become focused on the black community. However, the diversity issue encompasses all minority groups in America. “If you have true diversity, you have representation by all different groups. You have Muslims, you have Christians, you have Asians,” she said. “You have to have more diverse people coming through the pipeline.”
And that pipeline doesn’t just lead to Hollywood; it leads to local, state and federal government. “I think obviously having more female participation at every level of government is important, because I think it brings a different perspective, just as I believe we have to have more people of color at every level,” Couric said. “People reflect their own experiences, and they see things through their own unique prisms, and if we have everything from the prism of one particular group or demographic or race, you’re going to get a very limited and narrow perspective of the world.”
So the answer to our problems? “The people representing us should look like us, and that means all races, ethnicities and religions,” Couric said. “It’s all about giving everyone an equal opportunity, and that’s everyone. We need to open up the world to more people. That doesn’t mean shutting any group out.”
And of course, we had to ask the question many people likely have on their minds. After publicly expressing her awe and admiration for Hillary Clinton, does she think it’s finally time to have a female president?
“Well, that’s for the electorate to decide.”