Stereotypes, Strides, and Setbacks of Professional Women

Women have made great strides throughout history, with revolutionary acts stretching from the right to vote, to the ownership of businesses, progress in the professional workplace, and so many beyond. However, while women have made so many great strides throughout history, we are far from complete. It is the end of 2016 and despite the great strides we’ve made to this point, we are still faced with a multitude of stereotypical problems both in and out of the workplace. The movies I have chosen to analyze, take place over a recent ten-year span, and yet to this day women face the same problems.

The Movies

The Intern (2015) is a movie is focused primarily on two characters, whom appear to be distinct opposites. Ben (Robert deNiro), the retired widower who is looking to get back into a scheduled working life (the intern), and Jules (Anne Hathaway), who is the founder of a rapidly growing, and increasingly popular online fashion site. Simply, it is a heartwarming movie that appeals the a large majority of people, but with perspective, it is a movie that depicts a successful woman, challenged with stereotypical problems, as well as her battle and growth to overcome them. Jules is a star. An overworked, nonstop, blur of a star. She is a mom to an adorable little girl and wife to newly turned stay at home dad. Once she embarked on her journey to chase her dream and start her own company, her then successful husband decided to step down and let her pursue this dream. In an incredibly short time frame, her business rapidly grew, and continues to do so, presenting her with a large amount of managerial responsibilities, problems, and non stop activity. While she seemingly appears to be a pro at it all, we quickly come to realize her dilemma of being told that it is time for her to consider hiring a CEO, and taking a step back so someone more experienced with growing companies can step in. Supposedly, this is best for the overall good of the company and well as Jules herself, but why would she want to give her company to someone else? She loves to be hands on and involved in every single aspect of this company and now she is being pushed to let go. While dealing with her professional dilemma, she is also faced with personal problems as well. She finds that while she is being judged by the stay at home moms, among other common annoyances, her husband has been having an affair. Thus, seemingly by hiring a CEO she will have more time at home, and be able to save her marriage while remaining the founder of her business, but with little to no power compared to what she knows. 

I also chose to analyze a movie review from The New York Times. This article was written as a review for The Intern, however while touching on the characters and plot, the article focuses more on the director, Nancy Meyers. I found this article both interesting and helpful because it contemplates the values and style of the director in relation to those of the movie. This is a great real world tie to the fictional one of the movie, that compares two professional women, one with total power over the other.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006) is a movie focused around women in the workplace. It focuses on Andy (Anne Hathaway) and Miranda (Meryl Streep) and the way that they do and don’t work together. Andy is a want to be journalist trying to make it and make ends meet in New York City. Miranda is the editor-in-chief of one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world. Andy is a journalist and businesswoman who is beginning her journey into the professional world, and realizing just how demanding and hard it can be. Miranda is an experienced and cut-throat businesswoman who is no doubt demanding and very intense. Throughout the movie, Miranda makes Andy’s life extremely difficult, and Andy soon adapts and conforms to better fit in and “survive.” The dilemmas faced by the professional women in this movie are endless. Everything from being labeled “ice queen” and expected to have a boyfriend at every second, are stereotypes that these women are berated with, and many except and conform, while others do not. 

I also chose to analyze a movie review from The New York Times. This article is an in-depth analysis of the film The Devil Wears Prada. This analysis is very well written and thought out. The article relates the movie to the book, and both to the real world. It describes the morals, and the depiction of each character. As well as this article, I referred to multiple personal blogs and “rants.”

The Stereotypes

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To simply state the multitude of stereotypes professional women face would be impossible. The list includes:

Women being seen as weak compared to men.

  • Men commonly see women as gentler and not as ruthless, which easily undermines their authority and creates a mentality that women are not able to hold their own.
  • In The Intern, Jules is seen as incompetent to run her own business as its rapidly expanding.
  • In the Devil Wears Prada, Miranda constantly has to keep the icy, assertive demeanor to keep her position and be seen as powerful. Andy is also constantly compared to men, as she is in a fashion industry but aspires to be a journalist.

Being expected to quit their jobs to have children and be their primary caregiver.

  • For some reason women are expected to choose between a career and a family. Even when jobs try to accommodate new mothers, they act as though the woman will be the child’s primary caregiver.
  • In The Intern, Jules was her daughter;s primary care giver until she pursued her dream, but is expected to hire a CEO and go back to being more of a mother and wife as her business grows.

They are judged harshly when voicing their opinion – seen as icy or abrasive.

  • While men are respected for being assertive, direct, or persistent, women are often seen as abrasive or cold when they assert themselves and state their opinion. Ironically, women’s opinions and ideas will often be cast aside unless they are vocal and persistent.
  • In The Intern, Jules is seen as cold and sporadic, but only because she is a strong leader and manages her company so closely.
  • In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda is seen as well “the devil” with an icy demeanor because of how she carries herself and is assertive, blatant, and blunt. Andy quickly gives in to the world of fashion, and as she essentially “sells her soul” she becomes seen as a mini version of Miranda.

They are expected to have good “soft” skills, being able to be feminine and complete simple tasks.

  • Women are often expected to be good communicators and warm welcoming business associates, and are often given simple tasks that they are assumed to be better at. ie: Cleaning, answering phones, making coffee, etc.
  • In both movies, the women are expected to be stereotypical warm and welcoming secretary types.

They are seen as secondary to their husbands and male coworkers.

  • Whether a professional or casual setting, often times women are seen as second to their husbands, whether it be being asked about their husbands careers and not their own, or even just being overlooked when being handed the bill at the end of a meal.
  • In The Intern, Jules is often being judged by the other moms at her daughters school for being a working mom, and she is constantly trying to keep up with her relationship with her husband, trying not to let it fall through the cracks.
  • In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda is about to divorce her second husband, and is often compared to men. Andy, is practically berated for missing her boyfriend’s birthday, and while he (being a struggling chef in NYC) is in a similar boat to her own, everyone takes his side and he is seen as the victim in their relationship.

They are judged more on their appearance then men.

  • Women are often judged first and foremost on their appearance, being expected to be pretty and pleasing to look at.
  • In The Intern, Andy is always prestige in appearance while the young men she works with are unshaven, in sweats, and are un caring in appearance.
  • In The Devil Wears Prada, their entire world is circulated around appearance, and upon her first appearances, Andy is terrible judged by her disinterest in fashion and style.

These stereotypes are just a few of the most common out of a much larger multitude. Other common problems include, difference in pay, being a minority in many engineering and IT similar fields, and much more. With it being 2016, shouldn’t we be far beyond these stereotypes? Andy suffers because her husband felt inadequate and people are doubting her ability to control and run her business. Miranda is so harsh because if she shows emotion, she will be seen as weak and less powerful.

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Being a business woman, myself, I have faced these stereotypes, among other as well. The biggest and most common issue I have faced is being seen as weak due to having Type One Diabetes, where when I have had male coworkers with the same thing, they are treated no differently. I have also seen women with far more qualifications being overlooked for promotions and higher level positions when up against men. Weiden and Kennedy, is one company that is geared to being an exception to these stereotypes, with a group of women in the company whom call themselves the 51%. The women make up 51% of the employees. Both of these movies not only depict women in professional settings, but they include out-of-work scenarios, as well as creative industries.

Conclusion

While women have made so many incredible strides throughout history, even today in the year 2016, we are facing a multitude of stereotypes in professional settings. Whether it be unequal pay, being compared to men, or facing unfair expectations, women are fighting everyday to achieve their dreams while still being faced with typical problems. Both movies that I have analyzed give examples of these stereotypes and take place 10 years apart. They provide true examples, and depict how even ten years later, women are still being confronted with the same problems. With continued efforts on both the parts of men and women, hopefully one day soon, these stereotypes and problems that women face with be another conquered remembrance.

Learning Moments

  1. I definitely learned a lot from the commercial and advertisement analysis that we did for the Big Picture Blog Posts. It helped me to analyze gender stereotypes in popular culture, and it also helped me look beyond the content of the commercials and into the company that owns the products, as well as the agency that represents that company. This allows you to research and think about how they came to the conclusion to produce the ad that they did, as well as why.
  2. A second learning moment that I found valuable was the completion of the research analysis and annotated bibliography assignments. These as well as the library resources really gave me a better understanding of secondary sources and allowed me to analyze all of my resources and ideas further than I might have done previously. I also became aware of just how many resources are available to us as students.

Works Cited

  • Frankel, D. (Director). (2006). The Devil Wears Prada [Motion picture on DVD]. United States.
  • Meyers, N. (Director). (2015). The Intern [Motion picture]. United States.
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This entry was posted in Fall 2016 by hicks321228. Bookmark the permalink.

About hicks321228

I am currently a sophomore at Portland State University. I am studying business and graphic arts. I was previously a nationally ranked athlete, and I am a lover of art, music, business, movies, adventures, and food. I have 3 dogs and a bunny.

5 thoughts on “Stereotypes, Strides, and Setbacks of Professional Women

  1. Hi hicks321228,
    Great job on the blog! I really like it. These stereotypes are what I’ve been seeing for a long time and it hasn’t changed much. It’s rare to see women are strong themselves in business without men helping them in the movies. I also see many secondary as a female ,but I never see a male as a secondary. My mom was working while I was in her belly. When she gave a birth to me, she quits her job to take care of me. Even though I have nannies and my grandparents at home taking care of me and she doesn’t need to quit her job. She tells me that she quits her job because she wants to spend time with me and raise me herself. I believe one of the reasons that mothers quit their jobs because they want to spend time with her children. I also can see that everybody is different, some mothers may want to go back to work when she’s well recovered. I agree that women are viewed as the same stereotypes we always see in the past and the present and it sometimes can be a problem.

  2. Hi hicks321228,
    Great blog post! I liked the artifacts you’ve used, I think that Anne Hathaway is a great actress. I noticed that she is in more than one of your artifacts, is she one of your favorite female actresses? I think that you make some really good points in your post, and I agree with you that although women have made leaps and bounds throughout history, females still do not possess the same rights as males. The point is that until men and women have access to the same opportunities, the battle is not over. The face of discrimination has changed into this institutionalized discrimination where it is not as visible, but still very much present. This fight for equality is somewhat similar to the institutionalized racism that african american men and women face in the work force and also in their everyday lives. In the movie The Intern, from a business stand point, after a business owner builds up his or her company into a success, the goal is usually to form the business so that it can run without you. At least for most business owners, it would be a good thing for the business to become automated which would allow you to be able to have more time to spend with family. On a side note, I haven’t watched the movie The Intern but from what you wrote, if he cheated on her, she probably shouldn’t worry about saving that marriage. Again, great post! I enjoyed reading what you wrote.

  3. Hey hicks321228,
    I loved reading you blog post and the topics and stereotypes you mentioned. The idea that women need to stay at home and take care of the children is one stereotype that I for one can not stand. The idea that in order to keep your husband you can not be his equal, you need to be lesser and can not achieve more than him is ridiculous to me. That we are supposed to stroke his ego that he is taking care of a woman and we should not aspire to be more. But if we do achieve high standards we have to keep up the persona that you are icy, or for lack of better words considered a “bitch”. I really enjoyed your post, great job!

  4. Hi,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post, you made a lot of excellent points throughout it. I totally agree about the negative portrayals of successful women or businesswomen in general. Women who are powerful, are often depicted as angry and aggressive compared to successful men in film or television. I will say that in recent years that the media has been a lot better about accurately depicting successful women. It’s hard for me to watch shows from the 1990’s or 1980’s because the normalization or sexism is so shocking.

  5. You made some really valid points throughout your paper. There are so many movies about women having to pick between family and work, making it seem like they aren’t capable of having both. Yet there are plenty of movies with men who have both careers and family, and handle it just fine. There is a lot of patterns about not only the stereotypes of women in the work place, but also about the lives they live and the type of women who can achieve this life. I noticed that the only women representation was conventionally attractive white women as well. Meaning that there is still a lot to be said about the type of women who even get representation in the work place.

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