Response by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox to Allegations Against Her
I am deeply saddened to have been accused of something that is in complete opposition to everything I stand for and have fought all my life. I have spent 25 years supporting women, all women. Everywhere.
I did not cite Ms. Seck in my FORBES blog because I had never heard of her and had never read her piece – not until well after mine was published. While Ms. Seck may mistakenly believe she has been wronged, there are no similarities between the two articles beyond the over-arching topic of women leaders dealing with COVID 19 (see detailed comparison below). This was already an ongoing discussion in the media and on social media when I published my article. Ms. Seck’s accusations are 100% without foundation.
I detest plagiarism, having suffered it myself several times. I recognise the particular anger sparked by these accusations, given the appalling history of more privileged persons taking credit for the hard work of those less privileged, in particular from women of colour. This is not what has happened here.
While I feel for anyone who believes they have been plagiarised, this is a case of defamation against me. I am confident that anyone who cares about truth will fact check the evidence below and agree. I hope that when Ms Seck reviews the below evidence herself she will acknowledge that her accusations are unfounded and withdraw her defaming comments.
THE ARTICLES – SIDE BY SIDE
Ms Seck says my article just added two countries, translated her sentences from French to English, used her paragraphs, and started with Germany as she had. She says my piece lacked ‘an original approach’ and that I plagiarised her. All this is clearly not true if you put the two articles side by side. Here is an analysis of structure and approach. The full articles are linked below the table, side by side, in both French and English. My text is the original published text provided by FORBES, identical to today’s.
|Criteria||Ms Seck’s Article||My Article|
|Approach||Lists 6 countries, their female leaders and their coronavirus statistics.||Structured by the four key leadership traits demonstrated by these female leaders as skills that the world could learn from. – truth, decisiveness, tech and love. Shows Merkel’s truth-telling, Tsai Ing-Wen and Jacinda Ardern’s decisiveness, Jakobsdottir and Marin’s use of tech, and Solberg’s innovative and loving approach to children’s fears. A very clear conclusion|
|Countries and country order||Germany, Belgium, Iceland, New Zealand, Denmark, Finland. This follows the order of the photo meme of 10 April.||Germany, Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, Finland, Norway. I rejected Belgium as virus stats were so bad. Germany is the obvious starting country as it is the largest with the highest profile female leader in the world.|
|Sentence content||No sentence that either directly copies or paraphrases Ms Seck.|
|Comparisons||No comparisons with other, male leaders||Compared female leaders with male leaders of USA, Brazil, Mexico, India, Philippines, Hungary, Russia and Israel.|
|Quotes||No quotes||Quotes Merkel and CNN about Taiwan.|
|Sources||No links or citation of sources.||Citation and links to sources. Different statistics from Ms Seck.|
|End to articles||No conclusion||A clear conclusion suggesting the leadership traits men can learn from women.|
My article has completely different ideas and uses different language from Ms Seck’s not only because I was not aware of Ms Seck’s article, but also because I was writing my blog before hers was published. The idea for my article came from a range of reading and the growing noise around a single idea: women were inspiring the world with their management of the crisis the world is currently facing.
- APRIL 9th: An article in the Byline Times appears titled Does COVID-19 Prove Women Are Best Suited to Lead in a Crisis?
- APRIL 10th: An article in FORBES by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic titled Are Women Better at Managing The COVID19 Crisis?
- APRIL 10th: A meme by Johnathan Ford (titled “COVID19 is everywhere but countries with heads of state managing better seem to have something in common”) went viral and appeared in several of my social media circles (see image) and reinforced the value of a blog I had already started on the topic.
- APRIL 11th: The Guardian publishes an article on the same subject The Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Coronavirus: Women
- April 11th: Charlotte Seck publishes her piece in a magazine I’ve never heard of. I don’t see it until after she published her accusations on Instagram.
- April 13th: I publish my piece in FORBES.
- April 23rd: My discovery of Ms. Seck, through her allegations directed at me on Instagram.
- April 24th: I responded to her via Instagram (having never previously conversed with her), saying I had never heard of her, or read her, but would be happy to recognise her piece in a future blog (as part of a summary of the fascinating conversation sparked by the issue). Ms. Seck replied, “you know what you have done. I will fight to the end until justice is done.” She has since tried to use my invitation to collaborate as some sort of proof of her position.