PUBLISHED MONTHLY
EST. May 2000 (AD)

 
 

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Who Cares?: Female Advancement in a Male Dominated Workplace

A special report by Audrey Latura for Happy Woman Magazine

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a hundred times: the glass ceiling ambitious career women so often fail to break through is actually made of a clear, synthetic polymer which resists typical methods of penetration and causes static cling after prolonged contact. Regardless of the raw material, though, the fact of the matter is women eventually bump their foil highlighted heads against something solid if they climb high enough up the corporate ladder. This begs the question: what inexplicable reason compels these women to assume the coif-squashing challenge of barreling through this translucent barrier rather than engaging in more edifying pursuits like watching E! or Happy Hour manis and pedis? To better understand the baffling nature of this phenomenon, we decided to take a closer look at the generic cosmetics smeared on the faces peering upwards to understand the inadequate beauty regimes - and any professional goals - of the real women behind the discount separates.

Happy Woman Magazine conducted a nation-wide telephone survey of 1,600 randomly selected females, employed full-time, ages 18-30. What we found is alarming. To begin with, over half of the women polled appeared either unwilling or unable to devote themselves to the task of bearing strong, healthy male children to carry on the family blood line. Even more striking, when compared to their non-professional counterparts, career women consistently stated their preference for foreign travel and haute cuisine over 5 AM dashes to Wal-Mart for Tickle Me Elmo or comparison shopping for the best anti-bacterial hand wipes on the market. Dr. Barbara Fenton of the Work Free Women Coalition contends the root of the problem is physiological. "These women's New York Times, cabernet-shriveled ovaries prevent them from producing sufficient hormone to focus on what's really important in their lives: other peoples' expectations. As a result, they spend an unhealthy amount of their free time looking outside the natural diaper bin of their souls." More astonishing yet, Dr. Fenton points out, are signs that these women tend to use deodorant irregularly and that they also "hate freedom."

Looking more closely at the survey data, an interesting trend emerges in the numbers. Career women defined equality between the sexes very differently than non-career women. For example, long-lasting, chip resistant French manicures and flawless application of anti-aging foundation rated less important than a vague, undefined "professional recognition" by their male peers. One respondent admitted that although her personal attractiveness declined somewhat due to time constraints as she became more ambitious, her colleagues had bestowed her the nickname "Sea Hag" which she considered a positive judgment of her intellectual abilities over her figure. And though long hours of retina-burning number crunching meant less time sweating off the holiday party cocktail weenies their male counterparts' higher metabolism easily burned off, career women chose time in the office over time in the gym or spa by a ratio of 2:1. One woman commented "Now that I'm national sales manager of a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical giant, my pores are large enough for pygmies to swim in, but I've earned my coworkers' admiration, if revulsion."

This leads to the most significant characteristic of career women which our survey revealed: poor allocation of time to non-professional development. Instead of stocking their home libraries with sophisticated but uplifting favorites such as The Devil Wears Prada"and The Complete Fan Guide To 'Sex and the City: Season Four, career women buried their shiny noses in mutual fund reviews and IRS tax guidelines at home in their poly-blend bathrobes. These monotonous, free radical-inducing activities shift the balance of female energies unfavorably, which often leads to devastating consequences such as forgetting appointments for teeth whitening and bloating. The problem has reached epic proportions for some. One respondent disturbingly confessed she'd had so little romantic activity of late that "certain 'lady parts' had not seen a non-electrical device in over three and a half years," while another babbled incoherently about the ease of ordering by catalog for "plus-sized outerwear." Compounding the problem further, these same women reported a startling pattern of intellectual curiosity instead of pursuing more time-efficient, gender-prescribed interests which, when finally out of the office, inevitably lead them to book stores and open-mic nights instead of bratwurst festivals and karaoke bars where large numbers of eligible bachelors could most likely be found. Fran Worthington, co-founder of Heart2Heart Dating Services, sees this behavior often. "Before beginning any of our highly successful Relationship Regimens® , I always counsel professional women to get back to basics: organic white tea and Baltic Sea exfoliating crystals. Otherwise, you'll get to the point where your State Penitentiary penpal is the only one who can 'understand' you."

Yet, for all the harrowing trials and tribulations our survey revealed, and despite the majority being unable to break through the "glass" ceiling anyway, the professionals we spoke with unanimously agreed that although moving up means moving out of your waistband, it's worth it in the end. As one respondent put it, "I may never have time to experience the sublime satisfaction of cleaning a toilet bowl with a toothbrush or force-vomiting my lunch in order to zip up a cocktail dress for a dinner party when my husband makes partner, but at least I have respect. Well, self-respect."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Audrey Latura is a 29-year old marketing executive. She lives in Chicago