Like many people, I have been fascinated with AMC’s Mad Men. It is interesting on so many levels, not the least of which is the struggle and challenges of women in the workplace. With season six starting, I thought it might be nice to reflect on some of the workplace changes and lessons this show has brought to light over the past five seasons.
And in that regard, is there a better, more interesting character than the indomitable Peggy Olson? Her spunk, great attitude, smarts, and dedication have, and will, take her far.
It's hard to say that the change in attitude by and towards women at work is not the most important change in the working world…
Similarly, Don Draper’s new wife Megan is a fascinating character. Rather than the ditzy airhead we (I) anticipated, it turned out that she too is an very capable young woman, bursting with creativity and mad skills.
But what neither of these women will ever be is a mompreneur.
I grew up in the 60s and, as the show so ably depicts, it was a different era. Women tended to be either stay-at-home moms or women who worked. Rarely did the two mix. Witness Joanie leaving her son with her mom so she could go back and not only run Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce, but actually become a partner.
Pinning Down the Greatest Advancement in the Workplace
There have been so many advancements in the workplace in the recent past that it is hard to pick one that is the most important – technology, mobility, laws, attitudes – work today is radically different than even a generation ago.
But even with these seismic shifts, it would be hard to say that the change in attitude by and towards women at work is not the most important change; number one.
I once had a boss who had to straddle the old and new worlds. Coming of age in the 70s as she did, she seemed to think that the only way she could be effective at work was to be tougher than the guys. And boy, was she tough.
These days though, it seems that no such compromises need to be made.
When the Secretary of State is a woman, when The Masters has a problem on its hands because the CEO of one of its biggest sponsors, IBM, is a woman, we are clearly in a new world where equality does not mean out-manning the men.
Rather, it seems to mean that a person can bring their own strengths to the table and succeed or fail on her own merits, period.
The World I Want to See My Daughters Grow Up In
- A world where a woman can realistically think she can become president (Go Mara!)
- A world where a woman does not have to choose between being a mom and being an entrepreneur. (According to the AP, roughly 67% of all home-based businesses are owned by women with children.)
- A world where women get equal pay for equal work (Background: Lily Ledbetter worked at a Goodyear Tire Rubber Co. plant in Gadsen, Alabama. After she learned that she was being paid less than her male counterparts, she eventually sued the company. But because she waited until near retirement to sue, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against her because, they said, she had in fact waited too long. In his first act as president, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act which mandates equal pay for equal work.)
Take a minute one of these days, and make sure to thank all of the great women of the working world and mompreneurs out there who have changed the world, and who continue to make our business life so vibrant.
Photo Credit: AMC