Women and Work

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.


Wallflowers and friends

Succumbing to my daughter’s insistence, I finally started reading “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” from Stephen Chbosky. I first asked her, if it was a teeny reading or a young adult novel and who the author was. She told me that it was a book about coming-of-age, but that it should be interesting for all ages. She assured me that it wasn’t only about high school and parties.
Chbosky is an american screenplay writer and this was his first novel.  He also wrote the screenplay and directed the film with the same name:
I must say that I really enjoyed the book and found some interesting thoughts in it. The main character calls himself Charlie and writes letters to an unknown friend telling him about his everyday experiences during his first high school year. He is a lonely boy who has a hard time making acquaintances  and prefers to observe and think rather than take part in life.    “He’s a wallflower… You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.”

His favorite subject is English literature and his teacher is one of the adults he starts talking to. His teacher tells him that “Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life.” and that he should think less and act more.  So Charlie decides to start living and he manages to make two very good friends and other acquaintances.  He shares one similar and dramatic experience that occurred during his childhood with his best girlfriend. This bad experience has a very big influence in the ways they interact with their peers and adults. The book shows the value of having good friends and the importance of knowing how to keep them. 

Besides friendship, love is one of the other major topics that goes hand in hand with sexuality in those years. One of the interesting quotes regarding love is “Why do I and everyone I love pick people who treat us like we’re nothing”; – “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

It also shows the problems not only young people have to deal with such as drugs, dysfunctional families, dishonesty and cheating among others.  Although the topics may sound hard and sometimes cruel, this is the way life is and Charlie has a very charismatic way of telling about the events that affect him.  As one of the quotes in the book: “This moment will just be another story someday.”  And also“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.” 

The book ends with Charlie finishing his first year of high school having made some good friends and with good intentions of participating in life.

After having spent an excellent Friday evening with my dearest friends and having gotten so many e-mails, SMS’ and posts on FB, I can only agree with the book and the importance of having good friends that may or may not be “forever”.