DuPont's first female CEO recalls harassment in the 1980s

The first female CEO of DuPont (DD) shared her experience of workplace sexual harassment, adding it's "about time" for a national conversation about the issue.

The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, reported Tuesday that Ellen Kullman said her experiences were "not terrible." But she said many women in the 1980s avoided being alone with male colleagues during "alcohol infused" events.

The former executive for the chemical company said she laughed off propositions. Kullman did not divulge specifics but said the offenders were her peers and not supervisors.

"I would laugh and say, 'It's very complimentary, but no,'" Kullman told the publication. "Back in the '80s, it was like, 'My wife doesn't understand me'," and I would say, 'Maybe I know why.' "

She said her outspoken presence caused some colleagues to sometimes rethink their behaviors.

Kullman made her comments Monday at an event in North Wilmington. She left DuPont in 2015 and is now co-chair of Paradigm for Parity, a coalition of business leaders who are trying to foster gender equity in the workplace.

The sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein is sparking a wave of allegations in other American industries and in politics. 

Roy Moore, Alabama's embattled GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, is facing allegations of sexual misconduct against teenage girls several decades ago. His accusers are coming under attack for their timing, with some critics questioning why they waited decades to disclose their allegations.

Talking about women who are criticized for waiting years to disclose sexual assault and harassment, Kullman said, "They probably were talking about it but were afraid for their careers."

She added, "What kills me about what's going on in the media today; this is not like people didn't know."