Warren Buffett’s message to women: Take credit for your work

Investor Warren Buffett spoke Thursday at an event held by Fortune magazine at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
Nati Harnik /Associated Press
Investor Warren Buffett spoke Thursday at an event held by Fortune magazine at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

OMAHA — Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, said women need to pursue more recognition for what they accomplish.

‘‘They have to get like the males and claim credit for way more than they do,’’ Buffett, 82, said Thursday at the University of Nebraska Omaha. ‘‘You can’t put limitations on yourself.’’

The billionaire investor spoke to students, answering questions from audience members and those submitted on Twitter. He cited Katharine Graham, former chairman and CEO of The Washington Post Co., as an example of a ‘‘super high-grade’’ woman who didn’t think she deserved praise.


‘‘Her stock went up 40-for-1 while she ran the company, 4,000 percent,’’ Buffett said. ‘‘You’d think that’d make somebody feel pretty confident about themselves. It didn’t. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her autobiography. You think that might make somebody pretty confident about themselves. It never got rid of the feeling in her stomach.’’

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The average man would say, ‘‘You’re not giving me enough credit,’’ Buffett said. ‘‘Women have to get over that.’’

Graham won a Pulitzer in 1998 for her autobiography, ‘‘Personal History,’’ and presided over the newspaper’s publication of the secret Pentagon Papers and the investigation of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. She died in 2001 at 84.

Thursday’s event was held by Fortune magazine and precedes Berkshire’s May 4 annual shareholder meeting, where Buffett will share his views on his company.

Buffett said he counts his first wife and Graham among his female role models. Berkshire is The Washington Post’s biggest shareholder, and Buffett is a former board member.


Berkshire shareholders are set to elect Meryl Witmer, a general partner at Eagle Capital, as a director at the annual meeting.

Witmer would be the third woman on Berkshire’s board, joining Charlotte Guyman and Susan Decker.

Her addition would expand the board to 13 as the panel prepares for Buffett’s eventual departure.

‘‘If it was a toss-up, I wanted to give it to a woman,’’ Buffett said of adding a female director. ‘‘I like the idea of women of talent becoming recognized.’’

Women held just 16.6 percent of board seats and 14.3 percent of executive-officer posts at Fortune 500 companies in 2012, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit group that seeks to expand opportunities for women.


They fill 51.4 percent of managerial and professional positions, yet earn 23 percent less than men on average, US Census data show.