I was watching a sitcom from the seventies that a good friend of mine gave me, when I started thinking about work and women in the 21st century.
The show is “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and is about Mary, a single woman, working for the WJM-TV newsroom in a men’s world. She has to deal with the mentality of her boss, Lou Grant, her colleagues Murray, the news writer and the news speaker Ted, a chauvinistic, self-loving middle aged man. Mary finally gets to be the producer of the show having to convince her colleagues to let her take the decisions and do her job. The other woman with a good job is a very traditional, housewife type lady, Sue Ann, who is in charge of the cooking show. She works, but would love to have a husband and a house instead of going to work. Besides the work matters it is appealing to see the way of life and the fashion of the 70’s. I’ve had good laughs watching the spontaneous and lively dialogs.
Although I have been working for many years in many different positions in modern Germany, I sometimes wonder, if we’ve really come that long way. I used to have a boss who told us, three ladies, that we weren’t aloud to have more responsibility because we were women and young, and of course, responsibility was hand in hand with a better salary. That was in 1998!
This past weekend I watched a movie called “Potiche” from François Ozon.
Catherine Deneuve is Suzanne Pujol, the trophy wife. She has the looks, the class, the understanding for her stressed husband and she never asks questions. However, after having to jump into the role of the CEO in the umbrella factory that used to belong to her father, she realizes that she can be an independent and successful business woman. She decides to start living her life and after many occurrences she finally has to give up her position as a business woman, but starts a new career as a charismatic politician. She even wins the election defeating her counselor and former lover. Once again, the movie is playing in the 70’s. The roles of wife, mother, sister or girlfriend were very traditional and woman were told to stay at home. In Germany there is a saying, the three “K”s for women “Kirche, Kinder, Küche…” (church, kids, kitchen) I hope we don’t take it that serious anymore.
Of course, things have changed. However, in many areas, especially those that were traditionally dominated by men, like engineering and IT, it is still very difficult to be taken seriously or as equal as a man being a woman.
In 2014 discussions are being held about introducing a “gender equality rate” in the top positions of many big companies. There are also gender campaigns in universities and international enterprises. In politics, they also want to introduce this rate to have more women acting actively.
Is this still a problem of the society or maybe it is still this way because women have other priorities in life?
Speaking of my personal experience, I would say that gender matters in trying to get a good job. And to my surprise as I’m not the youngest ;-), age matters almost even more.