27 Jun 2007, Comments Off on In which I judge a book by its cover

In which I judge a book by its cover

Author: Helen

Recently, the folks at IBTP have been bemoaning the pinkification of everything (something also deplored by Barbara Ehrenreich, Twisty and Tigtog). Coincidentally, while relaxing with the dead-tree paper, I wandered by accident into the My Career section. Normally I would toss this bulky wad, with its depressing articles about young billionaires who are all twenty years younger than me, over my shoulder. This time, like someone driving slowly past a car crash, I couldn’t avert my eyes from a book review by Wendy Taylor (whose column is titled “Expert Advice”).
The name of the book is: “The Girl’s Guide to being a Boss”. Because, presumably, if you’re a grown woman contemplating a position of authority, you’ll rush out and buy a book which refers to you as a “girl”. As if that isn’t enough, the full title as shown by Amazon.com is “TGGTBAB (Without Being a Bitch): Valuable Lessons, Smart Suggestions, and True Stories for Succeeding as the Chick in Charge”. Because, you know, the greatest danger in taking on a management role is that people will think you’re a bitch? And who could resist a book on professional development with a cover like this? Here’s the version shown in the AGE review:

Image from Allen and Unwin

And here’s the version shown on Amazon:

Image from Amazon.com

Because, you know, if you want to direct a professional development book at women, it’s gotta be pink. (there was a picture of a large, pink, six inch heeled shoe somewhere to the right of the review, for no apparent reason. Chicks. Shoes. Pink. You know.)

Since this isn’t available online, and I have no intention of buying – or reading it, I need to stress that I’m criticising the marketing of the thing. The cover. The artwork. The presumption that if you aren’t an underling, you’re going to be labelled “a bitch”. And being called a “chick” even if you have the corner office. Just in case you get a bit uppity. I won’t second guess what advice they give, as I say I haven’t read the book, but I hope they aren’t using a double standard of male and female managerial behaviour. Well, I can always hope.

What is it about these people who write or do artwork for professional women and their obsession with the Barbie aesthetic and all things pink?

Taylor’s review stresses how easy the book is to read, but the blurb at Amazon.com lays it on with a trowel. “Most management books put you to sleep…No jargon and no need for an MBA. The Girl’s Guide to Being a Boss Without Being a Bitch is a fun read that offers information without intimidation and includes all the advice you need to learn to lead, inspire and motivate. We include quizzes, tips, checklists and fun sidebars such as “Celluloid Bitches,” and “The Girl’s Guide to Gossip” throughout.”

Business is hard!
Chicks haz short attention spanz!
More pink shoes!
Let’s go shopping!

Here is a collection of career development books I found while trying to find the review I’ve mentioned. They don’t seem to feel the need to talk down to their target market, and there is no… bloody… pink. But then, the cover artwork only shows men.

*Updated 28/06/2007 to include some excellent Pinkification links I’d neglected to add.

Comments (0)

  • kate says:

    I like My Career best when they feature someone working in the arts and talking about how they got their job. They always underplay just how hard it is to get full-time permanent gigs in the industry, and ignore that there are hundreds of people in Melbourne working in cafes, or at the front desk at the NGV, with Masters degrees that were supposed to get them the featured job.

    I don’t think I’ll be investing in the Girl’s Guide. I assume it doesn’t have anything genuinely helpful and female-specific like:
    Dealing with a sexist male boss
    Raising a family without destroying the career you’ve worked so hard for
    Negotiating carer leave & part-time work

  • L. says:

    Ooooh! I have an idea! I can write a follow-up “boss book,” about “How to Succeed as the Middle-Aged Lady in Charge, without Reminding Your Employees of Their Bitchy Mothers.”

  • Gianna says:

    Geez, what kind of woman in authority is going to be seen dead with that one on her desk???

    Funny how the pink ownership thing starts so early; when I take Harley to preschool the girls are almost all dressed in a sea of pink, say 80% of them. You can’t tell me they all spontaneously starting liking pink without the parents buying the pink clothes and toys first. But then I don’t have a girl so don’t know the way it evolves, whether it is something that gets attached at preschool through peer pressure. My son sometimes wonders why girls seem to like pink more than boys since he likes pink too. (Then he shrugs it off, gives a wicked grin and says “Girls have pink poo!”. Ah, three year olds…)

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