Sexual harassment on the job cover

Lady Problems at the Office

Sexual Harassment on the Job
How to avoid the working woman’s nightmare
Backhouse and Cohen
1980 (originally published in Canada in 1978)

This was still in active circulation as of this writing.

When this was published, there wasn’t much talk on sexual harassment. It was mostly treated as a joke. I remember several dudes back in the 1980s constantly saying “we need more sexual harassment around here”. (Hilarious) There weren’t a lot of protections or policies in place. It’s still a decade before Anita Hill’s testimony.

The advice is lukewarm. Since there is no mechanism to report or enforce policies, anyone that complains is probably fired or harassed until they quit. This book does talk about the range of behaviors, but without the legal definitions, laws or policies, women didn’t have a lot of options. The general advice amounts to saying you have a boyfriend/husband, avoid being alone, and ignoring the overtures.

working women cover

Unworkable Lives

Working Women, Workable Lives
Linamen and Holland
1993

This is another of those books that attempts to help women solve their problems with juggling home and family obligations against those of one’s career. I should make these books their own special category. Check out a couple of examples here, here, here, and here.) They all have suggestions like:

  • Stay more organized
  • Take time for yourself
  • Hire a babysitter
  • Talk to your husband
  • Meditate

I feel like I read most of the ones published between 1989-1995 when I was trying to to get a handle on my life. None of these books have any real solutions. Even the privileged mother with lots of cash, supportive family, and a staff would find these suggestions ridiculous. The reality is that none of these books go after the real problems or working women. You know, those pesky problems like wage inequality, lack of childcare, sexism, racism, worker exploitation, poor management, etc. You know, the problems that plague 99% of working families.

what to do with the rest of your life cover

Figure Out Your Life

What to Do With the Rest of Your Life
Catalyst
1981

We have had a couple of books authored by the organization Catalyst. This non-profit advocated for women in business. They published career advice for women in the 1970s and 1980s. If you have been a long time reader of this blog, you might remember this particular book.

It felt like this book was more about introspection and finding your “perfect” career path. It was definitely published with nice, privileged, ladies in mind. See the bottom paragraph on the introduction page.

Like I have commented before, this very much is for that 1% of working women that have resources and a nice safety net. I doubt that the single mother trying to make ends meet has time to have an introspective meditation on career satisfaction.

Really, just get in there and weed those career advice books.

you can't do it all cover

Advice for (Privileged) Mothers

You Can’t Do It All
Ideas that work for mothers who work
Lew
1986

Books like this make me mad. They particularly made me mad in the late 1980s and early 90s when I was in child hell. I would bet I read every single one of these books and no one had a “solution”. Because there isn’t one.

What all these books fail to understand is that regardless of what you do (or don’t do), someone will criticize your choice and make you feel lousy. Take your choice: you can be a bad mother or a bad employee.  If you are really trying, you can be both!

sexual harassment on the job cover

Sex Harassment on the Job

Sexual Harassment on the Job
Petrocelli and Repa
1992

For the early 1990s this was a pretty good guide to understanding the legal remedies to sexual harassment. Spoiler alert! There aren’t that many. The authors frequently acknowledge that most women cannot afford to go down the road of making a complaint due to lack of resources and backlash. However, this book is excellent at giving straight up scripts to confront harassers and document your experience with sexual harassment.

I remember watching the Anita Hill testimony and thought finally someone is sharing the reality of working women everywhere. (Insert your own #metoo story here)

The librarians need to be aware of how legal material does expire, even if nothing much changes. Regardless of the topic, a 1992 pub date throws this book’s accuracy into question.