The Workplace Is Even More Sexist In Movies Than In Reality

Angélica Escobar
5 min readSep 14, 2020
Anne Taintor: Another Day in Paradise

The imbalance of women in the workplace in movies is astonishing. Hollywood portrays the workplace where men outnumber women by more than 2-to-1, making it look extremely rare for women to have jobs that require higher education. Even if they do have a college degree women are often placed in jobs such as: nurses, secretaries, and teachers. Nothing is wrong with that, but it is clearly stereotypical. Meaning that women can’t have jobs of power because their job is to clearly be a caretaker rather than a leader. Not to mention, when women are put into higher positions of power they are often depicted as mean, flawed and unable to balance both their craft and personal life. Overall, high ranking women were portrayed as ‘bitchy’ and having a lesson to learn, which was a part of the film’s plot. The contrast of the lonely working women who are married and illustrate the happy housewife narrative that Betty Fridan explains in her book The Femmine Mystique. Moreover, this past week I have spent a majority of it watching Hollywood movies about journalism.

1994 American Comedy-Drama Film Directed by Ron Howard

In the movie The Paper, Alicia Clark, managing editor of the New York Sun is shown as being heartless, and cruel as she is the nemesis of Henry Hackett metro editor for the same tabloid. Clark’s main goal is to raise her salary, which she then tries to implement cutbacks to the newspaper because of how power hungry she is. Not to mention, Clark is having an affair with Sun reporter Carl. Clark fits the stereotype of a woman in power, she’s depicted as a villain who can’t keep her love life together. Alicia Clark is the blueprint for the evil boss in movies. She wants to cut back on workers at the Sun, and has approved the tabloid’s first front-page headline and story that states the two teens were guilty even though they weren’t. This then causes a fight between Alicia and Henry because he doesn’t want the wrong information printing thus ruining the two teenager’s lives. The movie ends with Alicia having a change of heart after she’s shot in the leg and ends up in the hospital at the same time Henry is because his wife Martha is giving birth. So Alicia switches the front page’s headline to “They Didn’t Do It.” Once again, a man saves the day and the work orientated woman is seen as a ‘bitch’.

The Newsroom (2012–2014)

In the tv show The Newsroom, the pilot episode “We Just Decided To,” anchor Will McAvoy is angry at the fact that his boss Charlie Skinner had just hired Mackenzie MacHale as his new executive producer. Mackenzie is also Will’s ex-girlfriend so her image is tainted due to the bad history she has with Will. In my opinion, Will is threatened by Mackenzie because she was brought in to improve the news broadcast, and help his image after his outburst at Northwestern University. Will eventually lets Mackenzie help him with the agreement that he can fire her at the end of every week, a big ego booster for himself. Mackenzie juxtaposes Alicia’s character from The Paper, Mackenzie doesn’t come off as aggressive like Alicia. Mackenzie and Will actually work together to put out a story about the oil spill. While, Alicia and Henry couldn’t work together at all, and it took her the whole movie to have a change of heart. Mackenzie isn’t the typical stereotypical flawed working woman who comes off as an ice queen. Instead, she comes off as lonely, and wanting love. Which fits the other negative stereotype regarding that working women can’t make relationships work because they are too focused on their career.

Ugly Betty (2006–2010)

Betty Suarez, in the sitcom Ugly Betty, doesn’t fit the typical stereotype of a female fashion journalist in the heart of New York. She has braces, bushy eyebrows, glasses, and a unique fashion sense compared to her other colleagues at the magazine MODE. Successful women at MODE are cut-throat and demonstrate many masculine characteristics that female journalists have portrayed in both television and movies of the past. The MODE office is full of skinny blonde models, unlike Suarez, who is an average sized Latina American with a lack of style who pays little attention to her appearance. Being stylish and looking great are paramount at MODE and Suarez is often the butt of her co-workers’ jokes. On Suarez’s first day of work she wears a poncho that her father got her as a souvenir from Guadalajara, Mexico and for Halloween her co-worker Marc St. James dresses up as Suarez in a similar poncho to mock her. She is basically the black sheep of the whole show because she can’t seem to fit in anywhere. That is why Betty Suarez doesn’t fit the general stereotype of a working woman. She is strong, doesn’t care about all the nasty things her colleagues say or do about her. All that matters to Suarez is becoming a journalist as she is an assistant to the editor in chief for most of her time at MODE. She is different from any other journalist I have seen in any other movies or tv shows I’ve watched. Betty is able to balance her home life on top of achieving her career goals. She also isn’t depicted as the cliche working woman because Suarez isn’t cold, or evil. Not to mention, Suarez never once slept with her boss all 4 seasons of the show.

Ugly Betty is one of my inspirations for wanting to become a journalist, the biggest reason being that she gave me representation. She is the first Latina journalist I have ever seen on television, and probably the only one I’ve ever seen. Movies and tv shows like The Paper, and The Newsroom have a lack of diversity in their casts. These two aren’t the only ones guilty of having a predominantly white cast, movies/tv shows such as: The Devil Wears Prada, 13 Going on 30, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Sex in the City and etc. have shown me lead characters that are all white.This is the problem with Hollywood today, not only do they rely on stereotypes, but on the white savior complex too.