What Barbie Has Taught Us About Women in Business
A Star is Born
Picture this—you’re 3-4 years old. Your parents are tired, you won’t stop screaming, and they’ve done just about everything in those outdated parenting books that they otherwise wouldn’t have picked up had circumstances not been so dire… so what is the last resort? A distraction! For some, this was a Rubik’s cube, with it’s vibrant colors and seemingly impossible challenge— I give you, the coders of this generation. Others were given legos, where they built empires to be conquered, or metropolitan cities of excellence— I give you, the engineers of the world. However, there was one toy that seemed to break the barriers of time and redefine itself at every turn. This was no toy, no, this… was BARBIE. At 6’ tall, she had the world at her feet— a doctor, an entrepreneur, a nurse, a vet, a businesswoman… there was simply no limit! Seemingly she was a reflection of the world that built her?
A Harsh Reality
The Barbie movie paints a beautiful and empowering picture of women tackling the day side by side while building each other up along the way. They hold all the power in Barbieland, and it flows as harmoniously as a Broadway choreographed number. However, as the viewer sees Barbie venture into the real world, we become more acquainted with the harsh reality of the work culture and women. She is met by an all male executive team at Mattel, harassed on the street, objectified, and worst of all, harshly criticized by other women… and preteen girls! As America Ferrera gives her speech on the difficulties women face whether it be emotional, professional, or social, there are so many things we as women can do to take back the power in what too many deem as a “powerless situation.”
It’s true. There is no perfect system that magically solves years and years of discrimination. However, there are so many tools to combat the obstacles before us, especially in the working world.
- There is no stereotypical businesswoman, we are all unique! While it can be pretty much universally agreed that Margot Robbie is an incredible goal to reach for, we shouldn’t! If there is any singular takeaway to be summarized from Greta Gerwig’s film it is that each and every person is unique and beautiful just as they are. This is applicable to the business world as well! Everyone has a different skill set, and together it makes up a well oiled company machine.
- You can be emotional AND logical at the same time! Lots of women enter a meeting thinking that if they show any hint of emotion they will not be taken seriously. However, whether we are aware of it or not, in each decision ANY person makes, there is emotion. Emotion is the very thing that drives human behavior, and without it, well, we probably WOULD be Barbies. Emotion is a powerful tool, not a weakness.
- There is still work to be done: Only 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. It’s no secret that it took women time to get to where we are now. In this day and age, finding a company culture that is positive and inviting for women can be a challenge, even though women are a very active and present part of the work force. 10 years ago, 2/3 of women were in the workforce, and it has increased to 75%!* However, opportunities for women advancement still need to be highlighted in many of these large corporations. Don’t let change end here!
* Schwartz, A. (2023, July 25). Americas Best Employers for Women. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/lists/best-employers-women/?sh=77f53c61466c