Tag Archives: Talking to women

“Mad Women” Book Review

By Samantha White

As a viewer of AMC’s “Mad Men” and a lover of all things 1960s, I was ecstatic to read Jane Maas’ “Mad Women: the Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the Sixties and Beyond.” In the book, Maas talks about specific campaigns she was involved with as a copywriter in New York (most notably, the “I Love New York” tourism campaign) and tells the stories of the few other female peers she had. While she makes references to “Mad Men,” she focuses on three main topics: how females were viewed in the office, the never-ending full-time employee and mother battle, and the struggles of being a woman in the industry back then.

According to Maas, women usually entered an ad agency as a typist or a secretary, then slowly worked their way up (if they desired to). The senior men in the agency would often make their rounds through the female groups, as if the women of the office were their personal pool of available dates. This included just about everyone and anyone, regardless of marital status. Maas informs us of the “Three-Martini Lunch,” explaining that senior employees rarely returned to the office from lunch sober, creating an office full of sexual tension and flirting.

Maas opens “Mad Women” by walking through her daily routine of working on Madison Avenue and explaining her priorities as a full time working mother. She is clear when she says that her career came first, followed by her husband, then her children. She was able to live this way because of her “lifeline,” her nanny/housekeeper, Mabel. Maas did what was required of her to get ahead, even if that meant leaving her family behind and says later that she wouldn’t go back and change her priorities if she could. However, many other working mothers interviewed in the book discuss the revolving door of daily guilt around not being with their children when at the office, and not working when at home with their families.

In addition to the working mother conflict, Maas writes about other difficulties facing women in the 1960s working world. Females made half the wages of their male counterparts and were rarely given raises. Maas explains that when given the opportunity to begin actually writing copy, she had to do so on her own time, as not to interrupt her typing duties. This meant prioritizing her career even more, and spending less time with her family. In the final chapter of “Mad Women”, Maas questions whether or not women are equals in the modern workplace. While Maas believes women have come a long way, she also thinks that we “still have a long way to go.”

Do Super Bowl Advertisers Get Female Humor?

By Crystal Markowski

In recent years there has been conversation around Super Bowl ads and their disregard for female audiences. Regardless of how sexist, crude, awesome, or ridiculous you think Super Bowl spots are, one thing is certain. Women are making up a larger portion of viewership for the NFL, and some advertisers are paying more attention to this growing audience.

While previewing the ads online (yes, you can do that now!), I was pleased to see one that was clearly targeted towards women. However, at the end of Dannon’s 30 second spot, my pleasure turned to disappointment. I had no laugh, not even an “I’m giggling in my head” reaction. The basic formula for the ad was to show a sexy man and sprinkle in some slapstick comedy. Though it was intended for women, this spot didn’t seem to actually consider women and how our sense of humor works.

To get their message across, advertisers shouldn’t just create an ad that shows a woman. They need to create one that speaks to her in her own language. Humor that appeals to a woman lets her laugh in an inclusive way. For her it’s about connecting through shared experiences and being able to say, “Oh! That happens to me too!” This weekend I’m hoping to see other female-targeted commercials that do a better job of connecting to women.

Tell us what you think. Does this spot get your sense of humor?

Gender Disparity in Politics: Why Women Don’t Run for Public Office

By Crystal Markowski

With the 2012 campaigns warming up, a lot of talk has focused on who will solve the nation’s problems and how. But, one conversation that doesn’t always receive attention is the disparity between men and women in politics. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post earlier this year, Ruth Marcus raised this subject and presented these facts:
•    Women hold about 17% of the 535 seats in the US Congress today.
•    About 24% of state legislators in the US are women. South Carolina trails all other states with just 9% female legislators. (Center for American Woman and Politics)

According to a Brookings report, the issue is not how women perform in elections; rather, women simply are not running for these leadership positions. And this is occurring at all levels – national and state offices, as well as many college campuses. With so many women earning degrees and making achievements in education, what could be causing this lack of motivation to run for prominent political seats?

Part of the situation likely stems from structural problems in our political system. Incumbents, most of whom are men, have strategic advantages and often easily secure their reelection. It can be tough for a woman, or anyone for that matter, to feel up to the job of running against an incumbent. However, what’s interesting is that even in countries like Sweden where quotas are in place to raise the level of female leadership, the number of women in elected positions is still not representative of the population. So what else is happening here?

After talking to female friends and coworkers, another barrier emerged – women’s own internal desires that move us away from that type of life. When considering the balance so many women are trying to achieve in their work and personal lives, the time, effort, money, and public scrutiny involved in running for public office simply makes it unappealing. Also, I believe many women feel that they can make bigger (or perhaps more direct) impacts by offering their public service in other ways. For example, women dominate in fields like teaching, nursing, and social work, and 60% of Peace Corps volunteers are female.

There is so much to gain by having more women in leadership positions in the public sector, but without some major shifts in the current realities of running for and holding office, women will likely continue choosing to contribute in other ways.