I was watching Oprah recently and she had on former Saturday Night Live comics including Tina Fey and Jane Curtin. What I thought was so interesting is how they described being a woman working on SNL.
Now before I go any farther, I know that Boomer women knocked down doors for Xer women like me. Yet, as a 40-year-old Xer woman, I can tell you that there is often this sense from Boomer women that they knocked the doors down and we had a lovely stroll down career lane.
It’s simply not true.
What struck me as interesting on Oprah was the way Curtin discussed being a woman on the show and her words were all about struggle and clawing and going head-to-head with the man. Fey, however, said that she and her other female writers and comics basically wrote for the other women in the room and that’s where skits like the Maya Rudolph’s Oprah sketches originated. Interestingly, the result was comedy that was appealing to both men and women - it just happened that there were enough women laughing in the writers' room to get the skits approved to go on air.
I think that’s the major thing Xer women have brought to the table in terms of career success – throwing like a girl. What I mean is not trying to compete like a guy. I didn’t say we don’t compete. I’m just saying that Xer women don’t necessarily think you need to act like a guy to get ahead. What Tina Fey’s crew of comediennes did at SNL was help each other out.
So, ladies, next time you walking into your job, you can thank a Boomer for getting the door open for you – but you can think an Xer that you no longer have to wear a red power suit with 80-pound should pads to walk through.
I agree. Earlier in my career (well, my previous career), I read a book that told me why and how I should compete like a man. It felt completely false. I would also say that there is much more collaboration among my generational peers--even when one of them is my boss--than the stereotype of women in the workplace would suggest. My Boomer bosses have either been threatened by me, or equated me with their children (in ways that are more flattering than not, but still!). My Gen X bosses and colleagues have treated me like the intelligent, capable professional that I strive to be, and we work together for a common goal.
@KateNonymous - I know what you mean. When I work with other Xers, I don't feel that "if you're not one up, you're one down" vibe that I get from others. I also can say that I really haven't had to deal with many (or maybe any) Xers that I would consider sexist. Assholes, maybe. But not sexist.
I should point out that Mr. Nonymous feels that this is true of his male bosses as well. Maybe it's more generational than gender-based?
Regardless, I think that our much-noted reluctance to join groups means that we have fewer cliques, and our ability to opt out of competition allows us to see and appreciate the strengths in others, rather than see them as threats. More "hey, that could work" than "I've got to destroy that."
I like the title "Tina Fey throws like a girl." After reading the article, I like it even better.
I AM a girl - so why should I try to act like anything else?
Shoulder pads be damned!
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