5 Struggles Women Face in the Workplace as Told by "Mad Men"

By Amy Barenboim on April 13, 2017

Peggy Olson (via decider.com)

1. Lack of recognition for hard work

In Mad Men, Peggy Olsen gets a promotion from secretary to junior copywriter. After participating in a test group for Belle Jolie Lipsticks, Peggy impressed the executives with her natural ability for advertising. Unfortunately, others in the office begin to attribute her success to a sexual relationship with her boss, Don Draper (which never actually happened). No woman is a stranger to people misattributing their hard efforts to either their looks or flirtatiousness.

2. Sexual harassment

Joan Harris Nee Holloway is quite possibly the greatest victim of sexual harassment on Mad Men. From the very beginning, her male co-workers attempt to woo her, although she takes it in stride for the sake of a free dinner. However, by the end of the show, the only way to keep her job is to abide by the sick wishes of her male superior and she attempts to sue for sexual harassment. Not every woman has experienced harassment to this extent, but nevertheless, has experienced some level of inappropriate behavior in the classroom or workplace, or even walking down the street.

3. Insults based on looks

Peggy eventually is able to be taken seriously by her male co-workers once she gains a higher position. She bosses them around and is generally much smarter than all of them combined. However, they continuously mention how she isn’t as beautiful as let’s say, Megan Draper, or Joan Harris. Her subordinates make jokes about her boyfriend being “too hot” for her. No matter how disgusting or inappropriate, remarks about a woman’s looks never seem to be off the table in social situations.

4. Manipulation

Betty Draper decides to go reignite her modeling career when she gets an offer from Jim Hobart of McCann Erickson because she looks “just like Grace Kelly.” She goes to the firm, dressed in her most lavish gown, ready to be the new face of Coca-Cola. We soon learn, however, that it was all a ploy to get her husband, Don, to work at McCann Erickson. If he declines to work there, they will not use Betty’s photos. Jim, and even Don, never took Betty seriously as a model, only as a tool in their games.

5. Perceived as “overly emotion” or “irrational”

Peggy, quite possibly the most level-headed character of the show, at times cracks under the pressure of her job, or the fact that she is often not taken seriously. After being berated by Don, she breaks down in tears and is called ”overly emotional” and a “girl.” She is not a girl, she is a woman responding normally to a frustrating, and discriminatory environment.

Born and bred in Northern New Jersey, I have always loved reading and writing from a young age. I now study English and Philosophy at Rutgers University and am very excited to be a Contributor for Uloop News.

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