Women Do Business

Workbook for Womans Guide to Business coverWorkbook for a Woman’s Guide to Business and Social Success: A Personal Analysis Record

Submitter: We found this workbook still sitting on the shelf, long after the actual textbook was weeded, 15 years ago! The work book is filled with the classic tropes of the era. Ladies need to be thin, pretty and submissive to make it in the working world. An ‘interesting’ glimpse into the past.

Holly: This. Is. Awful. Sections like “My Cosmetics and How I Will Apply Them,” “My Hair Care and Coiffure Arrangement Analysis,” and “Developing and Attractive Voice” make me want to vomit. Also, we all know that workbooks are the kiss of death in libraries. How did this one survive almost 40 years without being all written up?

Workbook table of contents

Workbook table of contents

Workbook table of contents

Personal Grooming

Visual Poise

Visual Poise

Your Voice


  1. notes on “visual poise.” i have a hilarious beauty book from the early sixties instructing career girls on how to stand in a flattering manner. hands on hips, thumbs to the front, angled downward to give the illusion of a slimmer waistline. you’re supposed to stand like that all day with your right toe pointed out.

  2. I have to admit I’ve never done the real work of analyzing my ability to put on, wear, and take off, a stole. But wait, oddly enough, this has never come up for me in a business or any other setting.

    1. I remember going through very old clothes with my grand mother and our finding a stole. We turned up the end, where the head was and there were 2 littel glass marble eyes. We kindof laughed at it for maybe 45 seconds. Also in one of the Miss Seaton mystery novels the character is acting as a wealthy old woman at a casino who, after cleaning up at the tables, is dressing to leave and can’t figure her stole out, so she does her best but “too little was hung, too much was flung” causing the weighted end to hit some minor gangster in the eye, causing him to “utter a word that, in all respectable establishments, would ensure instant dismissal”.

      1. I worked in the fur department at May Co. In the 80s. We offered fur storage and cleaning and one time a customer came to pick up her creepy 2 headed stole and went into a tirade claiming we had switched out the glass eyes in her stole. Very bizarre.

        1. Mom used to get her stole cleaned there.

          However, hers didn’t have eyes, for which everyone was grateful.

          That customer was deeply disturbed, I’d say.

  3. The visual poise section! I’ve always wondered how to handle my stole. And thank goodness that someone has taken the time to write and say that, should I have a lot in my hands when I’m trying to put on a coat, I should PUT THEM DOWN or ASK SOMEONE TO HOLD THEM. Golly. And all these years I’ve been holding tightly to large objects while trying to stuff my arms into my coat.

  4. Oh dear. This was outdated even for 1983, and completely useless now.

    I daresay the fact the workbook wasn’t scribbled in is that even the patrons in submitter’s library were smart enough to give this whole thing a miss.

  5. Ack!! (as Cathy used to say at this time) I just spotted Unit 7, chap. 7.

    I think it’s literally telling you how to poop.

  6. Your complexon can be “white, white, or white”. Everyone else is lumped together as “brown, copper, or ebony.”

  7. Seven long units and only one is actually about the workplace? Probably nobody has held the book long enough to write in it. It reads like someone who normally wrote fashion and beauty books wanted to cash in on working women, and recycled the same advice they’d been giving for the past forty years.

  8. I’m a man. If I had to do all that: “My Cosmetics and How I Will Apply Them,” “My Hair Care and Coiffure Arrangement Analysis,” and “Developing and Attractive Voice” I would cry. Now a manager has told me my email notes were not gentle or kind or nice enough so it seems the biases and prejudices are shifting. All that hooey about make-up is garbage and things are better, but today I think skins are thinner than they’ve ever been because people expect e-mail and messaging to erase those biases but they don’t.

  9. It’s one thing to call it a visual pose (for the Capone-style boss). It’s another to be mindful of body language, how you say what you say to anyone you try to serve. The trainings of The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: An Empathy-Driven Approach to Solving Problems, Preventing Conflict, and Serving Everyone speak to how any one and every one (not simply women) can approach someone else for best results.

    1. Yes, Ryan’s trainings are amazing! EMPATHY IS THE ANSWER. *fellow librarian here

  10. 1983, wow. I can see 1963 or even ’73, but by the 80s. Wow.
    Ok, but how is this any different from the “Dress for Success” books and other “self-made man” and education for business books that flooded the market post World War 2 ? They also had chapters on dress, personal hygiene, and learning the right words for the right job.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Post Vatican II, more religious women, nuns and sisters, gave up the uniform/habit (ask Sr. Helen Prejean about that if you ever meet her; it took an hour to put on the entire get-up) than say the men: the clerics especially because it is about the (smelly?) uniform. Uniforms are meant to put distance between people and a way to control the situation and interaction. That is not the same thing as being mindful of how all our human brains function and respond so we can be kind and compassionate.

      If you use the right words at home shouldn’t they be good enough for work? Of course there is more forgiveness at home than at work. If you fail at home there is compassion, but at work I’d say not. Men tend to like to fit in the cookie-cutter: who needs to have thoughts in the head (or hope in the heart.)

  11. I really can’t believe this is from 1983. Long gloves? STOLES? It must be a reprint of something from the sixties. Any woman I knew in the eighties would have wept with laughter at this.

    1. My mom had a stole — real mink! — but at no time did she ever wear it to any office. Strictly for the fanciest parties/dinner occasions/opera. And once when the power went out for days after a blizzard, because fur is good for that. I got to wear it in that period too.

      All the known women of my ancestry, and myself have mastered the “putting things down or handing to someone” technique pretty instinctively. Well before 1983.

  12. ACTUALLY, IMHO clothing by 1983 was FAR superior to the terrible apparel that characterized the previous decade!

Comments are closed.