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Issue #22: The Evolution of Women & Work 

I have always been a bit of a fan of the 1970s (Mr F has caught me practising my Tony Manero moves to the Bee Gees' "You Should Be Dancing" one too many times and, according to my mum, my dad was a bellbottomed Disco legend when he let loose to "Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting" - so proud). I have also more recently discovered the joys of the 1960s (read Frankie Valli and Mad Men). 

However it wasn't until I attended the excellent 100 Leading Ladies talk (which spotlights 100 influential British women over-50) that I started wondering what it must be like to be a working woman from those generations.

Luckily for me, Hattie Garlick (founder of Free Our Kids and ex-Times journalist who interviewed all 100 Leading Ladies) and Jenny Garrett (women's coach of the year and 1970s baby) came to my rescue to provide some insight into the Swinging Sixties and Disco Seventies. I hope you find their views as interesting as I did. I couldn't resist an 80s flashback too and a cheeky look into the future of women and work (egg freezing and purple penguins apparently).

We also find out what Mr Smith has been up to this week (do I smell burning pizza?) and explore why men find it more difficult to give feedback to women.

As always, we love a good follow, retweet, share or like. We also wanted to thank all of you who helped spread the word on our previous issue (especially grateful to those guys who shared it with their wives, girlfriends, daughters). 

Happy reading!

x  foong

PS: The images below are all from adverts featuring women from the 60s,70s and 80s. How far we've come! 
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Issue #23 of Suit & Pie is out on 6 November 2014. Subscribe here to receive it straight to your inbox and catch up on past issues in our archive. You can also read the Suit & Pie story here courtesy of
Back to the future (of work)
In this flashback (not to be confused with Flashdance!) issue, we revisit the 60s, 70s and 80s - the social and political context in which the women of those generations grew up, and how it feels to be a working woman of that generation. We also take a sneaky peak at what work might look like for women in the future.
The Swinging Sixties
Soundtrack: 'She Loves You' by The Beatles (1963)

Inventions: Astroturf, audio cassette tapes (replacing records, later superseded by compact disks), the computer mouse, automatic teller machines (that's ATMs to you), the handheld calculator (replacing that giant abacus we were all carrying - kidding!)

Social and political: Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique started second wave feminism in the US combating cultural and social views that a woman's place needed to be in the home. Women were excluded from jobs and professions, commercials portrayed them as being helpless. JFK's Presidential Commission on the Status of Women found discrimination against women in the workplace and in every other aspect of life. This launched two decades of prominent women-centred legal reforms (including the 1963 Equal Pay Act in the US). The Women's Liberation Movement gathered momentum with Gloria Steinem at the helm.

What is it like being a working woman of that generation?

Hattie (having interviewed all 100 Leading Ladies, most of them born 1957 or before): "Each and every one of our 100 Leading Ladies told a different story: each one had done her own thing, her own way. They did, however, encounter many of the same challenges, most commonly sexism. Here’s an example of two radically different approaches:
Terry Marsh – Former Executive Director of WISE (Women in to Science and Engineering): "Being married, as a Roman Catholic as I was, your job was to be subservient to your husband as the church is subservient to God. So I knew that I had to do what I was told. And I really believed that until the fateful day when someone recommended Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch to me. I read the book and thought; she seems to be saying that women are as good as men. This is rather confusing. Does that mean that I’m actually worthy in my own right? My husband found the book and told me that it had to be out of the house by the time he got home." 

Barbara Hulanicki, founder of iconic clothes store Biba, encountered similar sexism, but dealt with it in a different context. "There was so much bottom pinching from the reps at the fairs and things. It used to drive me absolutely bonkers… But I got my own back. Before we moved to the big store, we had an office in Portobello Road. We were all into the Kasbah look at the time. I made a reps’ room with a very low table and tons of cushions all around. When the reps came in, they would have to work their way round the cushions and sprawl in this very ungainly way and then I would send all these elegant girls in, in their minis…"

Read more great quotes from the 100 Leading Ladies' radically different experiences in the 100 Leading Ladies book by award winning photographer Nancy Honey and Hattie Garlick (@hattigarlick). Also check out Hattie's blog Free Our Kids. Please note that each Leading Lady's personal experience is not emblematic of all women's experiences in that era.
That '70s Show
Soundtrack: 'Rivers of Babylon' by Boney M. (1978)

Inventions: Bellbottoms, the afro, the floppy disk, the videocassette, the (giant) cell phone, the Sony walkman, the first Apple computer (thank you, Steve!), Space Invaders (thank you, Mr Nishikado!)

Social and political: The feminist movement of the 60s carried over into the 70s and was largely successful as women gained previously unheard of success in business, politics, education, science, the law and even at home. Women became heads of state for the first time (Margaret Thatcher, first UK woman PM in 1979). Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" reached No.1 on the US Billboard Chart. The US Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe vs Wade brought the right to abortion into the spotlight. 

What is it like being a working woman of that generation?

Jenny: "To the backdrop of Michael Jackson's 'I'll be there' and the Carpenters' 'Close to You', the 1970s was a decade of firsts, which saw acts enforced to stop employers sacking pregnant women and discriminating based on gender. We saw our first female prime minister and our first of many National Women's Liberation Conferences. Feminism's popularity is coming full circle with Emma Watson and Beyonce now its high profile proponents.

In many organisations,we weren't permitted to wear trousers 40 years ago, we can literally and figuratively wear them now; this is highlighted by the huge growth in the number of women who are the main earners in their home, currently a third in the UK. Women in the UK have more choice, independence and education and as result more to juggle and balance now than ever before. I am confident we are up to the challenge of crafting the life we want."

Follow Jenny Garrett on twitter @JenniferGarrett, check out her book Rocking Your Role and find out about the Happenista project starting January 2015. 
Acceptable in the '80s
Soundtrack: 'Relax' by Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1983)

Inventions: Shoulder pads, the mullet, the perm (not really, but it felt like it), Cabbage Patch Kids, Windows (the computer program, not the glass kind), Prozac, HD TV and MTV

Social and political: The early 1980s marked the end of second wave feminism in the US and UK and the beginning of the 'feminist sex wars' which broached the polarising issues of sexuality and pornography between feminists. Margaret Thatcher continued to rule in the UK while Madonna and Whitney Houston ruled the charts. In 1982, 1,700 female flight attendants won a $37m lawsuit against United Airlines for firing them once they got married. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. 

What is it like being a working woman of that generation?

Foong: "Although my (permed and shoulder pad wearing) mum put her career on hold to raise me, she always told me I could be anything I wanted. She never mentioned limitations based on gender or society's expectations which meant I grew up thinking that anything was possible (I distinctly remember wanting to be Skeletor, Superman then a cleaner).

I think this is probably characteristic of my Millennial generation - we expect society to be ready for us, to listen to our ideas and to promote everything we stand for. However the reality is that, although there is a greater awareness of the value that women bring to businesses on a cultural and economic level (thank you, Sheryl), there is still some way to go before this translates into actual pipeline and Boardroom representation."

Follow me on twitter @foongi and @suitandpie2013 and check out the S&P facebook page.
                            ... and the Teenies (that's the 2010s!)
Who knows what the future will bring for women and work? Some recent controversial news topics may give us an indication.

Egg freezing: Not since the big 'poached vs scrambled' debate has there been so much controversy over eggs. Apple and Facebook recently revealed that they will be offering to pay for elective egg freezing for women. There was outcry as some saw it as a ploy to keep women working for longer without a family to distract them, while others saw it as enabling women to build careers and personal lives on their own timetable, without being dictated by biology. 

Life expectancy: A recent survey by the Office of National Statistics shows that women are now less likely to outlive men as the impact of workplace stress, smoking and drinking take their toll, while men continue to get healthier. In 1963, men were twice as likely to die early as women. Last year the increased risk fell to 1.5 times and the life expectancy gap has fallen from 6 to less than 4 years.

Purple penguins: The School Board of Lincoln, the capital of Nebraska USA, has instructed the teachers in its public schools to no longer use gender-specific phases such as 'boys and girls' or 'ladies and gentlemen'. Instead they have been instructed to use the term 'purple penguins' because it is inclusive to all genders, particularly transgender students. Teachers from the area have recently come out to explain the guidance pamphlets which have sparked a national controversy.
Socks & crumbs (or the bit at the bottom)
Heard it through the (corporate) grapevine...

- Join icon Felicity Green, Fleet Street's first lady of 60s fashion and first woman on the Mirror board, when she discusses her 'fun, entertaining and revealing' book 'Sex, Sense and Nonsense' on 11 November at Daunt Books

- The next TEDxSquareMile event will take place on 8 November at the Museum of London and will be centred around The Power of Purpose.

Speakers include award-winning journalist Nabila Ramdani and KPMG's Global Head of Corporate Citizenship, Dr Michael Hastings.
This week I will be...

- getting reacquainted with the classics, Rembrandt at The National Gallery

- rediscovering the delectable burgers at MEATmarket, their tasty Bingo Wings and Brown Cow (slurp)

- getting tickets to Nathan Sawaya's Art of the Brick - who knew 1 million Lego bricks could be so dramatic?

- cracking up at the best tweets from women this week (can I just say - pigeons and pomegranates...)

- getting my 60s groove ready for the next instalment of Mrs Peel's glamorous cabaret discotheque
It's a man's world - maybe we aren't so different after all 

Emotional feedback

A recent article in the Glass Hammer by Anna Carroll highlighted the fact that men are sometimes less comfortable giving honest feedback to women than they are giving feedback to men.

A 2011 McKinsey study noted that 'male executives are often uncomfortable mentoring women and giving them the 'tough feedback' they need to grow into senior roles' this could be 'because they fear that women will react emotionally or even cry'. This does not materialise in reality very often, however this can still create a barrier for men.

This presents a problem for women because they will be looking for feedback from their male bosses to improve and advance.

So what can women (and their male bosses) do to get the feedback they need?

Anna suggests asking for feedback off-the-cuff rather than scheduling a feedback meeting ("we need to talk" is probably on a list of men's least favourite four words). Also make your work goals known so that male bosses can give specific feedback about goals rather than on behavioural performance.

Kristi Hedges, writing for Forbes, also mentions being resilient. Even if emotions do take over, being able to make light of it and then circle back when you're calmer makes it more likely you will get feedback in the future. 
Mr Smith's corner

Mr Smith gives us his thoughts for the week.
Highlights: Well it's been a bit less 'Pizza Express' and a bit more 'Pizza Excess' since we last spoke. I attended the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the movie with the boys. Mrs S was keen I took them and they were dying to go so it all made perfect sense. It seemed popular when I got there with other dads too...a heady mix of popcorn, pic 'n' mix, kung fu turtles and Megan Fox as April O'Neil. Shakespeare it ain't (not sure Megan does Shakespeare) but all were happy! Must remember to get the booster seats next time though, think No.4 son went through a full body work-out trying to stay in the folding seat...

Lowlights: Having not managed to watch a footy match for some time, I got to two last weekend including a midday kick-off at lunchtime on Sunday. After a couple of beers at half time and a detailed debrief post match (requiring further hydration), I headed to Tesco and treated myself to a post match pizza. Results were less than satisfactory... Having managed to get the wrapper off and popped it in the oven, I promptly fell asleep on sofa for 6 hours to be awoken by smoke that would worry any fireman. The whole place still smells like Guy Fawkes a week later (failing to replace the battery in the smoke alarm was particularly unhelpful). I wouldn't have minded so much, but it was a 'Taste the Difference' one too...  

Lesson learnt: Google has its limitations it appears... Miss S&P had 'Mull of Kintyre' as the soundtrack to the 70s prior to a timely intervention. My Rod Stewart suggestion was overruled though.
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