I have lots of good links this week, all with a feminist slant.
First, an opinion piece on CNN about the popularity of the new "retro" shows, which show women in outdated roles- and how young women today see these as period pieces, much like we view Jane Austen novels. (I doubt the writing in these shows measures up to Austen, though!) Personally, I don't think the shows are worth getting worked up about, but I doubt they are just benign period pieces, either. I suspect there is a fair amount of male nostalgia been pandered to (and perhaps amplified) by these shows.
But I don't watch much TV, so I can't speak about these shows from personal experience.
Sticking with pop culture, here is a very funny piece in the New Yorker about the unrealistic nature of the female roles in Hollywood movies. My favorite is the career woman stereotype:
"And since when does holding a job necessitate that a woman pull her hair
back in a severe, tight bun? Do screenwriters think that loose hair
makes it hard to concentrate?"
Of course, sexism is not just found on TV and in movies. @Rambleginger led me to an excellent funny-but-sad-because-its-true Jezebel post about the unwritten rules for women in America. I agree with the last line in the post- I read the post, recognized it was true, and was so sad for my little girls, who will largely have to navigate the same crap as I did. Someone please convince me that it is actually getting better...?
Oh well. Failing that, here is an awesome post that showed up on several blogs I read (including Nicoleandmaggie's) about the phrase "...like a girl" and so much more. Go read it. It is good.
I've also come across two pieces about research that tries to correct the myths about why there aren't more women at the top in business and why there aren't more women in tech. Hint: it isn't because we have babies or because we don't want these things.
I found that last link via a new Women in Tech blog, which I found because Anandi (who comments as ARC here) had a guest post up about how she negotiated her ideal work schedule. The same blog has a great post up from a Microsoft general manager about how she found work-life balance. The blog is off to a good start- I hope they keep it up.
The research pieces got me thinking about the conventional wisdom that tech is somehow a "bad" career for women, because of the sexism in the field. I certainly agree that there is sexism in the tech world, but I also believe (and have argued) that tech careers are great careers for women.
How do I square those two things? I guess I just don't think that the tech field is unusual for being sexist. That other research piece indicates that there women will face sexism in business careers, too, but I've never heard anyone argue that business careers are "bad" for women. I can't think of a single career that you can pursue and be untouched by sexism. You could argue that the female dominated fields are less sexist but (1) that isn't always true (often men are over-represented in the top ranks relative to their prevalence in the overall field) and (2) often, the field itself has been devalued and therefore suffers from low pay or low respect. Given the choice, I'd rather keep my high pay and respect, and just work through the sexism I encounter, particularly since my chosen career offers a lot of other benefits, such as the potential for a lot of flexibility in my work.
(Of course, some sexism is so egregious that you can't work through it. But again, I don't think the tech field has a monopoly on that.)
So I think we should continue to study the reasons why women are underrepresented in some fields, and we should work to fix those problems. But we should also remember that sexism extends beyond any one field or career path, and the solution does, too.