Guest Blogger: Sylvia Scheubeck

More Women in Business

This article deals with the role of the modern woman. It is a brief biographical depiction of a 3o year old woman, called Marie Ostermann, who has to claim her position within a men-dominated world. Her father is the owner of the company she works for. That’s why many people may think, this is exactly the reason why she got that job. But this is one of the daily problems and prejudices women nowadays have to cope with.

Women, being part of the public sphere, still seems to be regarded as “non-conform”, even in modern societies. “Non-conform” in this context means “not/unwillingly tolerated” by the recent culture of the society. But why? The reason for this goes back to even ancient times, where women were considered to occupy the domestic sphere, i.e. taking care of children and doing the household. Men were the responsible ones for feeding the family by earning money (public sphere).

During times of emancipation, this role allocation changes: There are many women who maintain the domestic AND the public sphere or men, which raise children, while their wives earn the money. The second variety is frequently one aspect men don’t want to identify with, because in many societies this is still seen as something female and no (real) man wants to be associated with any female features.

Marie, being the female boss of many men within a big company, definitely shows how gender related behaviour and positions have changed during the last centuries. Women are allowed to chose their own sphere. Men may accept that or not. Fact is, as long as she’s the boss, male opinions and decisions will always depend on her female(!) consent.

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8 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Sylvia Scheubeck

  1. There are several elements of the video clip that hit a chord with me. The narrator, who’s female, says Marie was “handed the job by her father.” Granted, she did graduate from an institute of higher learning, with excellent grades, but the phrase “handed the job” really bothers me. It implies there was no hard-work, no dedication, no sacrifice. The fact that the narrator is female is interesting to note …

    In addition, I found the section focusing on Marie’s desire to start a family implicitly sexist. Because she’s a woman working in a male-dominated field, the question of (anticipated) motherhood is a factor. However, if she were a man, would this discussion have been included? I’m going to say no. This is a clear example of the societal double standard/gender stereotypes we’ve talked about in class. Society – specifically the institution of marriage – tells us women are supposed to get married, settle down, start a family, and stay at home with the children. (Preferably by the age of 30. Once you hit 33, 34, 35, people start to worry.) And although Marie is not married, she’s already talking about employing a nanny to watch her kids; she has every intention of returning to work.

    Finally, the comments made by the men at the conference were infuriating. “Men and probably more stable, and tougher.” “Family comes first; you can’t have two masters.” Comments, individuals, and mindsets like this are what hinder the fight for equality in the workplace.

  2. Emily Harris says:

    I think the most important part of the video is when Marie talks about wanting a family. I agree with Sylvia in terms of the modern roles women are taking in the work place throughout the world. However, it is still harder for a female to climb the ranks. In efforts to be equal to men women have felt the need and the want to be seen in the public sphere. The trouble comes in women being the biological bearers of children.

    Women see themselves trying to keep up with both the domestic sphere and the public sphere. Starting families has been put off to the later 20s and 30s of a women’s life because they want to be established in their career. But many times women are not receiving help in the domestic sphere if they do have a family and conflict arises in the home. The husband expects the wife to take care of the children, plan family events and figure out what is going to be done for meals. And the woman wants help from the husband because she feels she is doing everything in the house. If the husband is working, as well as the wife, the husband does not have any more time to devote to domestic tasks than the wife does. And even if the husband is contributing, the wife still seems to do most of the thinking and planning that becomes work to keep the family going from day to day.

    But the husband’s job usually takes priority over the wife’s job because the wife is the one that needs to go on maternity leave if they are having a child. What are we going to do for the wives in the world that want to keep up their career? What is going to happen to Marie if she gets married, has children, and her husband is working more than she is? Who will be the one to make the sacrifice in the family? Chances are Marie will have to take a look at her schedule and find a way to accommodate the needs of her children. It can’t be for certain that her marriage will result in a setback in her career, but ultimately the woman is the one who bears the children and have to take at least some time off from her career to ensure the health and quality of life of the baby.

    I think we are coming upon a time where men will begin to take more time off from work after a child is born, but women are still stuck in a double-bind because men are inherently not the caretakers of today’s children.

  3. oliviacarb says:

    I’ve grown up essentially without a “mother.” Yeah she’s still around, yeah I still live in her house and she buys me things but she is not your typical “mother.” She doesn’t like to clean, she doesn’t like to shop, she doesn’t bake, and she rarely attended my field hockey games. Do I resent her? Not really. I see my friends who have their stay-at-home mom’s do everything for them – unpack their room, arrange their wardrobe, send them carepackages of snacks, arrange their doctors appointments, call the teacher if their child is having a problem. I never had that. The “new” female teaches their daughter independence by example.

    My mom has always been a big corporate biatch. She’s always going on business trips with sassy men (who never appreciated her carting around a new born when I came into the picture) who don’t understand why she isn’t married and doesn’t plan on getting married again. She defies their notion of woman, as many women do these days. It’s pathetic that we still live in a society where the “glass ceiling” is of concern because the people who are in charge of breaking through that ceiling are typically men who don’t understand a woman’s purpose outside the home.

    This confusion dates back to the discovery of the Two-Sex model where men and women were biologically different. Scientists at the time used their power to pursuade society that men are superior because of their wangs while women are inferior because they are “penetrated.” So must of our society’s ideals are based on the mere fact that men get hard and women give birth. There was also great ignorance to the role of the clitoris at this time which I believe, had it been acknowledged in the slightest, women would not have found themselves in the condition they did for so many centuries and would most likely hold more CEO positions. So these biological differences essentially relegated women to the home as the nuturer and men to the public realm because of all that raging testosterone. It’s disturbing that despite so many medical and societal advancements and realizations of the body (such as the trump-factor of the nerve endings in the clit compared to the penis) that we still haven’t been able to accept those who “stray” from the binary of the female private // male public. “It’s not a man’s job, he can’t do some of the things a woman can. Women are irrational and they get emotional because of their periods.” Yeah, and you get “emotional” when your football team loses. We are all perfectly capable of doing the same things, the only thing that makes us different is our anatomy. And it’s unfortuante that once a woman does decide to “have a family” she is forced to choose between the two realms while a man is free to dabble in both.

    The only thing my father – a gallerist who I spent the majority of my childhood with – was incapable of doing was breastfeeding, and my mother didn’t even do that because it got in the way of her job. I think I turned out okay.

  4. Jillian McCarthy says:

    In a history class in high school, my very wise teacher explained to my class that women began to lose their power on a societal level with the rise of agricultural societies and the discovery that women played a role in the baby-making process (which led to men’s insatiable desire to control our virginity). In hunter-gatherer societies, gender roles were more equal because groups were constantly on the move and women and men could contribute more evenly to the survival of the group. Every member’s contribution was essential because people could not store food for difficult times, so women pulled their weight along with the men. When people began to settle down, they were more productive because of farming, raising animals as food, and storing up extra food and therefore had time to sit around and think about other ways to pass the time and improve their standard of living. Men began to build up armies to protect the land they had cultivated and to figure out that, by controlling women and their virginity, they could ensure that their offspring were truly their own. They extended the concept of land ownership to people (women, slaves) and soon enough women were relegated to the home, taking care of the kids, seeing as men (the biologically stronger, more aggressive sex) went off to the army to defend the land. Women no longer played such an important role for the basic survival of their society, so they ended up losing their power completely.

    Fast forward to today and we’re still dealing with the side effects of the agricultural revolution; women feel that they are biologically condemned to raise the children and cook the meals, staying permanently in the home because so many generations of men have been telling them to do so. Obviously, today women are leaving the home and truly contributing to society (other than raising respectable, patriotic sons) by holding higher-up positions in the work force, but we’re still feeling the effects of this sense of ownership that seems so hard to shake.

    Side note: I appreciated in the video that all of the female’s dubbed voices made them sound intelligent and savvy while the men’s voices portrayed them as arrogant and pompous.

  5. PJ says:

    I definitely agree that women struggle in society to gain equal status with men. This is true. Our ideas of gender roles are definitely messed up and there are chauvinistic pricks that want to keep women in an “inferior status” based on oldddddd tradition. BUT! Women are not going about gaining equality in the appropriate manner. Not all women, but many of them (radical feminists), take their fight to such extreme measures that they become ridiculous and people stop listening. Sorry, but it’s true.

    First, these women, once again not all of them, but the radicals, need to stop claiming that “men”, which insinuates they are talking about the population of men, are holding them back and that we are all the reason for their problems gaining equality. That is like claiming that every Arab in the Middle East is bombing America and terrorizing the world, we know it is just a few compared to the entire population. If these radical women could take a different approach to their quest for equality, they might be able to get more men on their side, and even women who don’t want to be involved cause they are either embarrassed or feel the same way as men do and get sick of the stereotypical babbling, not in every case, but more than one case, they would probably have better luck.

    I personally put women on a pedestal. I feel women give birth to the people of our nation and should be given complete respect from everyone around them. If it wasn’t for them, the human race would cease to exist, unless we figure out how to reproduce asexually. Women should be able to hold jobs like men, live with the same equality in every aspect of life like men do, and we should not look to gender to decide a person’s rights. But please stop with the, “men ain’t shit and everytime women get somewhere we are going to throw it in every mans face”, routine. It is getting old.

    • Chris Bramwell says:

      One other thing to note, and this may be nit picky, but we are in the study of rhetoric…regarding the final statement, ” Fact is, as long as she’s the boss, male opinions and decisions will always depend on her female(!) consent.” I find widely wrong as well. Granted, it is technically correct. Since there is a female boss, all meaningful decisions must go through her first; however, why should we call attention to that fact in such a way? It’s not like we say that about male dominated businesses. This statement seems to me to similar to what one child might say to another, “no matter what you have to do what I say” – duh. My opinion is that regardless of sex, a boss is a boss and must be respected – to be truly honest, everyone must be respected. But for those who feel they have been disrespected by in large, when they finally get some respect (finally have a female boss), such statements still shouldn’t come out. I never found it appropriate when blacks seemed to flaunt the fact that Obama won the presidency, nor do I like it when any person flaunts their superior title in front of anyone else. Point is, to flaunt your title over another is no way to get respect, especially for those who are otherwise under respected; all it simply does is draw negative attention to that fact, and makes the fishbowl your job has become all the more difficult.

  6. Claire says:

    The blog first interested me because I took a class last semester that dealt with the multiple spheres that women are a part of. There is the domestic sphere that has been culturally regarded as the women’s sphere, and then there is the working sphere. We talked about the glass ceiling effect on women, and how inequality is still so apparent in the work force, which is regarded as the male dominated sphere. We also discussed how women in high places of power can be called a “bitch” if they take on male like business qualities. Yet if a woman if not assertive enough, she can loose respect, and be labeled as not strong enough to be in a position of power. These labels that women get while in the workforce only facilitate further alienation in the male dominated work sphere.

    In the video posted above, one of the male workers talks about the “unfamiliarity” and “unusualness” he feels about being an employee for a female. That in itself makes a very clear statement that it is not the norm for women to hold power over men in their “dominated sphere”. I also think it is interesting when Marie talked about hiring a nanny to help combine both her spheres, but she never mentioned the idea of having her husband stay home and take over the domestic sphere.

    I have to say that it made me mad to listen to the other (male) business executives talk about how family should come first, that men couldn’t relieve a women of certain tasks and a women just simply can’t serve two masters. The women that are in business and in the workforce are working just as hard as the men are. And since when are women not stable? Most women who juggle both spheres have to be stable.

    Women who are just as qualified as men to do a job shouldn’t have to face this glass ceiling effect. They shouldn’t be looked at different because of their biological sex, and they certainly shouldn’t be discriminated against because of the possibility that they might start a family. I am glad that women are pressing the norms and boundaries of these spheres that have been culturally created. It is the modern day continuation of women’s rights and equal treatment, and will hopefully continue to breakdown the existing barriers women face.

  7. ar5047 says:

    This is why people would think she got the job?

    When your father owns a company, regardless of your gender, there is always the belief that you aren’t qualified for the position and is only getting the job because of your father. Sons and daughters are put under the same amount of pressure when their parent owns a company and they are to take over in the future. Now, I can agree that a woman might be seen as weak if she were to take a leadership position but I don’t think it has to do with her father being a woman. If anything I would think that a woman with a father in a high position in any company would get more respect than just a random woman.

    I also understand that the idea that women should stay at home and men should work to support the family is something that was derived from our ancestors. But it is also true that it is up to women to change this. Many women feel comfortable with just staying home and making sure the food is cooked and the clothes are clean, which is not an easy thing whatsoever. I feel that there are many strong women who work as many hours as her husband, and they both come home to take care of all the house things. This begins to create the sense of equality that the children learn from and it beings to shape up the future.

    In essence, what I am trying to say is that women need to change things themselves if they want men to change the way they have been taught to live. Just a thought.

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