Females Successes and Portrayals in the Workplace

“She’s blonde so she must be dumb. She is wearing glasses so she must be smart but socially awkward. She is not dressed very feminine so she must be a man hating lesbian. She is fat so she must be lazy.” These are some of the many stereotypes that are portrayed by popular culture media about females. Many individuals fail to realize how the media influences the way we think about people of a different race, nationality, and specifically gender. These sorts of widespread beliefs about women has negatively affected them in the workplace.  

Over the years, our society and mass media shows us women are discriminated in their workplace based on their gender. I feel like gender discrimination happens so often in workplaces because women are often seen less powerful and for that unlikely to rise to the top compared to men.


I decided to explore these three movies in how females are portrayed in the workplace and also in how they try and succeed in their future. “The Devil Wears Prada”, “Legally Blonde”, and “Erin Brockovich.” All of these movies show how hard the females had to try to get to where they wanted to be in life and career wise. I want to address these questions: What do these movies have in common and how are they different? What successes each female had? How are gender roles in the workplace seen?

The Devil Wears Prada

This movie is about Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), a new assistant for Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), who is the head of Runway Magazine. Miranda treats everyone however she wants and is the boss. Andy has to do whatever Miranda tells her to do, like asking Andy to do ridiculous tasks. Andy doesn’t give up, and in the end Miranda offers her top assistant position and offers to take her to Paris. However the catch is, Andy has to fire the current assistant that’s working for Miranda, Emily (Emily Blunt), and Andy’ friend, which she unwillingly does. Andy’s relationship with her boyfriend Nate also breaks up because she doesn’t see him enough. He feels that Andy has changed a lot and isn’t the same person she was before the job she got offered. The movie part where Andy’s in Paris, Andy learns that Miranda is to be replaced and warns her about that. It turns out that Miranda already knew about that. Miranda prevented this move by giving her replacement to Jacqueline, another job position which pays better. Due to that she had to withdraw her original recommendation for that position, her second in command at the magazine (Nigel). Nigel is disappointed and mad that he didn’t get that position. But he still stays at his current job because he thinks Miranda would do something in return for what she did to him. Andy criticizes Miranda for that but Miranda says that she did the same when she fired Emily. Andy realizes this so she quits and leaves to go back to the U.S. In the end of the movie, Andy gets a journalism job (her original goal in the beginning), with Miranda’s recommendation. She learns that it’s better to be who you are then what you are expected to be and act like. This movie basically shows how hard Andy had to work to become the person on the top. It also shows how nothing comes easy in life.

Overall, this movie shows how hard women often have to work to achieve their goal in a workplace. Andy struggled through her time while working for Miranda, it showed how strong and hard-working women are. She always focused on the positive enough though her life was hell when she was working for Miranda. She had to sacrifice a lot to get where she wanted to be. She had to break up with her boyfriend, change her style, and always work extra hours. Eventually, she stuck to the end where she was offered a job at another magazine by Miranda’s recommendation. One quote I found very true that was said by Nigel to Andy was, Let me know when your whole life goes up in smoke. That means it’s time for a promotion.” Things don’t come easy especially to females, they have to work hard to achieve what they want.


Legally Blonde

This movie is about a girl named Elle (the main character) who finds motivation to attend Harvard Law School. Her motivation is to basically win back her ex-boyfriend. But things change once she discovers the true passion for law. In this movie she was seen very girly, a dumb blonde, and someone that’s weak. I mean ‘weak’ as in weak to go above and beyond in being intelligent. She surprisingly got accepted into Harvard Law School and everyone was surprised, people were even making bets that she wouldn’t last it in Harvard til the end of the week. During the movie she proves to everyone that she’s not all that dumb but actually very smart, especially to her ex boyfriend. She proves it big, the part at the end of the movie where she wins a big case in court. I feel like this movie was to show how women can be anything they want to be whatever they look like.

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Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich, is a movie about the actual Erin Brockovich. Basically the film is a dramatization of the true story of Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia Roberts, who basically fought against the energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). This movie basically describes an unemployed single mother (in the movie she is named Julia) that becomes a legal assistant for her authority (Ed) in this law firm. Before joining, she was a stay at home mother that was desperately looking for a job. While working at the law firm as a legal assistant, she finds out a cover up involving contaminated water in local community which is causing individuals of that community health problems. She basically helps the lawyers with this case and brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply. She shows real feminism and the power of the female’s body. People in the workplace seemed to always find her very sexy and didn’t take her seriously because of the way she dressed. She shows that dressing the way she does isn’t always bad.

This movie really goes to show how important it is for a female to be who she is and dress how she wants to dress. It basically emphasizes on how it’s the intelligence that matters to get somewhere in the workplace not always the looks but the looks are for sure a plus for a female.


What do these movies have in common and how are they different?

In all of these movies there is some sort of portrayal towards females and how they’re stereotyped in the workplace. In the movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” they showed how Andy was a second assistant and how hard she had to work for what she wanted to become. She was seen as a girl who was a tool to her boss. Her ex boyfriend especially has seen that, and basically said that to her. This movie basically shows that females usually get it a lot worse than males, as to promotion wise, position wise, and just in general. Females are usually not always at the top (not the head bosses), unless they look and act powerful like Miranda, the character in this movie.

“Legally Blonde,” Elle, the main character in this movie,was showed as a blonde, a not so intelligent girl who needs a guy in her life. Later on she was showed as a smart, determined girl who got what she wanted in life. She was stereotyped as being too girly and unintelligent by many people. People thought she wasn’t smart enough to get into law school because usually blonde girls weren’t seen as lawyers, but she proved everyone wrong at the end.

In the movie “Erin Brockovich,” Julia that played the role of Erin, always got stereotyped as being a sex object. She was always judged by others of how she was dressed especially in her work place. She was just a legal assistant that barley was important in the law firm, but she proved to everyone that she was actually something and that she could do and find anything.

What’s different in all these movies is the type of setting the females were in and the type of jobs they were working at. Each had their own struggles and challenges. Each movie ends in many workplace successes for these women.

What successes each female had?


In the movie “Devil Wears Prada,” Andy achieves her dream job goal; to become a journalist. She does that by putting in her extra hours each day for her assistant job. By working hard and realizing the truth about herself, she achieves to be a journalist with the help of Miranda’s (her boss that runs the Runway Magazine) recommendation. “Legally Blonde,” in this movie Elle puts her mind to the test to become the best student and lawyer she could be by studying extra hard and seeing her true passion for law. The “Erin Brockovich” movie, Erin shows her true self and doesn’t let anybody at her work bring her down. She works extra hard to find why the people of a city were contaminated by the water. She’s the one that discovered what contaminated the water supply of a city in California. Each female in these movies has to work hard to achieve their goal, like to be a great lawyer everyone can rely on.


How are gender roles in the workplace seen?

Compared to males, females are often seen as less powerful in the workplace. Women usually earn 80 percent of what men are paid according to “Gender Inequality and Women in the Workplace” article. Women are usually the ones seen as caregivers to children and the ones that stay home. In the “United States: What do you think are the most important issues facing working women in this country today?” it shows that more males are promoted and advanced in workplaces than females. About 72 percent of men received promotions by 2010 compared to 65 percent of women according to the 2008 Catalyst Survey. Women really have to try twice as hard to achieve in life, while men can achieve easily. And according to “Women in the Workplace 2016” article, women are 19 percent to be the ones that have c-suite job positions which is such a little percent compared to the men. And as of the overall successes in jobs between these two genders, they are quite the same today compared as to when they were back in the day.



Women are often seen as less qualified and incapable leaders than men even to this day. They are usually discriminated by the gender in the workplace and always seen less powerful. Over the years, the workplace for women has changed beneficially for them. Women are now handling more leading job positions and get paid quite the same as men get paid according to “United States: What do you think are the most important issues facing working women in this country today?” statistics. Nowadays, you’ll not only see women taking care of children at home but males to since more females are working. Women are taking on bigger roles in workplaces today than they were back in the day.Women-men-differs

Learning moments:

I’ve learned to dig deeper into sources to find the hard facts that could be useful for my project. It really gave me a new understanding by digging deeper into sources I found reliable. I’ve learned how to properly tell if a source is legitimately reliable or not by going on the URl’s and checking out from where these facts were actually coming from. Knowing this, it could really come in handy for me throughout my years in college especially when writing research papers.

Another thing I have found very interesting and shocking was on Week 5. I found that week very eye opening since the topic for that week really grabbed my attention. It was about the Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race, and LGBT Status from 2007 to 2014. The statistics really shocked me, I didn’t really know how much people were misrepresented and portrayed in films especially other races than whites and females. It really made me think of how much diversity there is in films. The things I’ve learned through that week, they really put a more better perspective of how I now see films and movies. It broadened my view of how much diversity there actually is in popular culture films I consume daily.

Works Cited:

Brockovich, Erin. “Consumer Advocate.” Erin Brockovich. Erin Brockovich, n.d. Web. <http://www.brockovich.com/>.

Gannon, Drew. “How Men and Women Differ in the Workplace.” The Fiscal Times. The Fiscal Times, 25 May 2012. Web.

Josh. “Gender Inequality and Women in the Workplace.” Harvard Summer School. Harvard Summer School , 13 Apr. 2017. Web. May 2017. <https://www.summer.harvard.edu/inside-summer/gender-inequality-women-workplace&gt;.

“Legally Blonde (2001).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250494/&gt;.

“The Devil Wears Prada (2006).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0458352/&gt;.

“United States: What Do You Think Are The Most Important Issues Facing Working Women in This Country Today? (by Gender).” Statista – The Statistics Portal, Statista, http://www.statista.com/statistics/328146/issues-facing-working-women-today-men-women/, Accessed 15 May 2017

“Women in the Workplace 2016.” McKinsey & Company. McKinsey & Company, Sept. 2016. Web. <http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/women-in-the-workplace-2016&gt;.



3 thoughts on “Females Successes and Portrayals in the Workplace

  1. Hi Veronika!

    I loved reading your post. You picked three of my all time favorite movies and as a feminist, they are definitely great films that show the strength of women. I really appreciated your analysis of each film and felt like you did a great job summarizing what was going on well. I feel like maybe the Devil Wears Prada could use a little work in the representation of women in films because Andy is seen as sort of easy to walk all over in the beginning and Miranda is seen as the typical bossy “b*tch” that is seen in women with higher power roles in films. I felt like Legally Blonde and Erin Brokovitch both show the ways women can break out of those stereotypes, along with being too blonde or too pretty to be smart. In your learning moments section, you mentioned the statistics we learned about in Week 5, I was also shocked by these. I felt like I learned so much about the portrayal and representation of people in the entertainment industry. I was not too surprised to learn how much white men dominated the industry, however.

  2. Hi Veronika,
    I really liked reading your essay. In the intro, I was really interested from your quote which off the bat looks at many stereotypes you see of not only women in the workplace but of many people! Like wearing glasses, or dressing a certain way. I really liked the examples you chose of The Devil Wears Prada, and Legally Blonde. They prove the stereotypes from media very well!

  3. Hello Veronika,
    You’ve done a nice job with your research. Your post was easy to follow and very informative. I found your post an interesting read. Reading what you think, thought, and have found was eye-opening for me as a man to see how at least one woman thinks about this subject. For future reference, it would have been nice to see some of the statistics you talked about.
    Well done

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