In the Blog

Girls, some advice: be hotter, work less, and shut up

August 18th, 2007     by Wesley Fok     Comments

Penelope Trunk is a Boston Globe and Yahoo! Finance columnist who’s been giving out tips and advice as the Brazen Careerist. The basic idea is she tells you what it’s really like in today’s workplace, and that you can hack the system by following her tips—which no longer involve such old-fashioned concepts as “climbing the ladder” and “paying your dues.” Which is fine—even hearing those phrases puts me in a bit of a 1950s American Dream mindset anyways.

Some of her recent columns have put people in a tizzy. A couple of weeks ago she doled out her tips on office etiquette, which included adding your CEO to Facebook, keeping your headphones on all the time, and always always be available on the weekends for work calls. Whether adding your boss to your Facebook is really a way to get ahead careerwise, I couldn’t say, but I’m skeptical.

And speaking of the 1950s: the next week, she came out with another doozy: The New Girl’s Guide to Workplace Success. The whole column is good for some laughs, but I’ll leave you with this one tidbit:

3. Expect harassment, and stay cool. A recent segment on New England Cable News reported that 46 percent of summer interns will be harassed. And most professional women will experience some form of sexual harassment in their career — some studies even say as many as 80 percent of them. It’s clear, then, that most women don’t report harassment. But it isn’t because they’re scared — it’s because they’re smart. The laws are very clear on what companies should do to respond to harassment claims, but they aren’t very clear on how to define when a woman has been illegally fired for reporting harassment. The careers of most women who report harassment suffer, even if the company works hard to do the right thing. The law is too far behind the times, so don’t report harassment.

So you shouldn’t report harassment because it’ll ruin your career and the corporations always win. Trunk elaborates further on her blog. The essential argument is that you shouldn’t fight these sorts of battles directly, but rather “find those men [who don’t agree with harassment] and work with them. Then get a lot of power in your career and create a workplace culture you believe in.” I’m not even sure this works as pragmatic personal career advice, let alone a way to fix the system that supposedly gives harassment reports token importance. And what if you work nights at a fast-food joint or retail store, wait tables during the summer, or take an entry-level office job while in college? How do you “create a workplace culture you believe in” under those circumstances?

Oh, but I could go on. With handy tips like “Show some flesh—but just enough” and “Tone down your work ethic,” there’s plenty of grist for the mill.

P.S. I didn’t realize playing video games was better preparation for the workplace than booklearnin’. Someone please inform my boss the next time he catches me playing Half-Life 2 on company time.

Tags: on the job

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