Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Women, the workplace, and two kinds of power

Dory Devlin has a terrific piece up at Yahoo's Shine right now, off of the latest episode of Mad Men. In it, Peggy -- a young executive -- fires a male creative after he sexually harasses Joan, the office secretary, by putting a pornographic cartoon on Joan's window. But instead of being pleased that the only female boss had fired the guy, Joan is angry. Dory writes:

Why? Because she had “already handled it,” and she did so in a way that was right for her mid-60s time, in a way that steadied the power she held in the office, the power so blatantly challenged by the young guy in the office, and unintentionally challenged by Peggy. Joan was angry with Peggy for wielding a new kind of power for a woman manager, the kind that will surely make her own extinct soon. ... And she’s right, of course, when she tells Peggy: “You want to be a big shot. Well, no matter how powerful we get around here, they can still just draw a cartoon. So all you’ve done is prove to them I’m a meaningless secretary and you’re another humorless b----.”
It's a striking moment, and one that rings true -- unfortunately -- for many women, even in this day and age. Read the entire piece at Shine and join the discussion: What kinds of power do women wield at work, and how does that affect the way women work together?

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