Why Should We Even Be Talking About Women in the Workplace?

Career authors and workplace experts offer advice for the ladies on how to get ahead in the office in 2011.

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Happy Saturday, everyone!

Today I wanted to address an important issue that is highly relevant to ChasingtheOm, and its goal of encouraging and inspiring women in their early 20s who are just getting started professionally: women’s treatment and perception in the workplace.

As you may know, I am an academic at heart. I like facts and figures. And, while I love opinions, and I do consider myself a feminist, I am also rational and understand that an opinion/rant/etc. is only truly justified when it is supported by evidence. Thus, I realized that it may be important to share some research findings on the “gender gap” in the workplace, a topic I researched heavily for a school project during college.

This may seem a little boring in execution because its actually just a cut-and-pasted section of a research proposal I submitted to a professor last year. Regardless, it has some important information about women in the workplace, and while it doesn’t really offer any solutions to this problem- that’s what ChasingtheOm is for!- it does justify why there still needs to be public discussion around women’s roles in the workplace and why resources like these are critical to young women!

Thanks for reading; again, I apologize in advance for the academic tone!



Today, half of all college students globally are women, and the percentage is even higher in the U.S. (57%). For the first time in history, more women than men hold advanced degrees of a masters level or higher (Yen, 2011). In light of a historical wage gap between men and women, the rise of highly educated and motivated women could suggest an ensuing transformation, or even reversal, of economic distribution. As more women are qualified for high-paying, reputable careers, presumably, we will see more women progressing into higher status positions within their careers. In fact, The Neilson Company projects that the vast majority of new income growth over the next 10 years will come from women (Anderson, 2009).

Despite women’s general advancement in the workforce, a substantive body of literature suggests that women are still subject to gender-biased evaluations in the workplace that prevent them from being judged equally to their male-counter parts. When reviewing two identical resumes, study subjects are more apt to rate one with a male name more favorably than one with a female name (Martha Foschi et al, 1994). Moreover, women often have to have higher qualifications than men for the same level position (Valian, 1998).

Existing literature suggests that gender schemas may be to blame for the unequal treatment of men and women in the workforce. Gender schemas are characteristics and behaviors that we attribute to be either masculine or feminine, but are generally shaped by the environment (Valian, 1998). Studies have identified that under typical gender schemas, men are associated with strength, drive, assertiveness and self-reliance, while women are associated with sensitivity, niceness, modesty, and sociability (Prentice and Carranza, 2002). Meanwhile, both women and men who behave in ways that are “inconsistent” with what is typically expected for their gender are viewed negatively (Pentice and Carranza).

Unfortunately, in regards to workplace behavior, this negative view places women at a disadvantage simply because the actions and behaviors that are often expected, or even required, for an individual to attain a high-status professional position typically requires him/her to behave in ways that considered more “male.”  In fact, it has been proven that a woman who achieves a high level of success in a typically “male” career will be viewed as indifferent to others, unlikable, and uncivil (Heilman et al., 2004). On top of all this, further studies have shown that it is considered more “feminine” to fail and to seem vulnerable (Valian, 1999), which, going back to the point above, would make a woman more “likeable” should she fail. To provide a famous example of this, when former First Lady, Hillary Clinton, was initially introduced to the public she became the butt of ridicule and scorn in the media. However, her perception and her popularity rose significantly after the humiliation following her husband’s public infidelity (McGinley, 2009). Evidently, when Clinton was seen as a victim, she “became more human and more likeable,” (McGinley).

On top of behavioral concerns, women are also judged more harshly than men for their appearance and dress at the workplace (Bartlett, 1994). The norms for appearance are stricter for women, and while men are more often rated as “average” in looks, women are more often rated as “above average” or “below average” (Bartlett, 1994). Meanwhile, it is more appealing for a woman to be more, rather than less, concerned with her appearances and fashion. To highlight another celebrity example, one study that sought to analyze social reactions to our current First Lady, Michelle Obama, noted that Obama’s overall likability increased when magazines began writing about her fashion sense and stylish clothing and focused less heavily on her her intellectual achievements (McGinley, 2009).

Evidently, women in most western societies today have many conflicting expectations that put them at a disadvantage to men in the workplace. Women are still expected to act in ways that are consistent with their gender schema, which includes strict expectations for dress and appearance. These findings suggest that academic credentials and a strong resume may not be enough to break the historical “glass-ceiling” (Valian, 2009). With the increasing population of highly qualified women who are employed or preparing to enter the workforce, it would seem logical that more women will fill high authority positions and be forced to behave in ways that are incongruent with typical female behaviors, and subsequently they will be viewed more negatively. Thus, I beg to wonder: does a woman sacrifice her likability when she advances in the workplace? With the information given above, it would seem doubtful that women will advance to equal or higher positions than men despite their increasingly higher academic and professional credentials. What needs to be done to create a more gender balanced professional atmosphere in the U.S. and even globally?


1. Yen, Hope. “Women Surpass Men in Advanced Degree for First Time.” Huffinton Post [Washington] 26 04 2011, n. pag. Print.

2. Anderson, Doug. “Below The Topline: Women’s Growing Economic Power.” Nielsen Wire [London] 06 10 2009, n. pag. Print.

3. M. Foschi, L. Lai, K. Sigerso. (1994). Gender and double standards in the assessment of job applicants. Social Psychology Quarterly, 57, pp. 326–339

4. Valian, Virginia. 1998. Why so slow? The advancement of women. Cambridge : MIT Press.

5. Prentice, D. A. and Carranza, E. (2002), What Women and Men Should Be, Shouldn’t Be, Are Allowed to Be, and Don’t Have to Be: The Contents of Prescriptive Gender Stereotypes. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26: 269–281.

6. Heilman, Madeline E.; Wallen, Aaron S.; Fuchs, Daniella; Tamkins, Melinda M. (2004), Penalties for Success: Reactions to Women Who Succeed at Male Gender-Typed Tasks.Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 89(3), 416-427.

7. McGinley, A. (2009). Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Obama: Performing Gender, Race, and Class on the Campaign Trail. Denver University Law Review, 86:709–725.

8. Bartlette, K. (1994). Only Girls Wear Barettes, Michigan Law Review.


Staying Sane During Unemployment

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I walk in the doors full-throttle, resume in hand, pencil skirt in line, and hair straightened to perfection, but still my stomach lurches. I am walking into, yet another, interview.

While I was living in L.A., this was a typical Monday for me (oh, and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, too!). I interviewed for so many jobs, its almost hard to keep track. I interviewed for a job as a personal assistant to an inordinately rich family, a personal care assistant for individuals with mental illness, a data analyst at two major market research companies, a waitress, a professional recruiter, a fashion merchandiser, an event planner, a research assistant, a hospital administrative assistant, a writer, a pharmaceutical research statistician…the list continues, my friend! Both fortunately and unfortunately, I did receive a few offers from my many interviews and discovered that some of the positions were not worth taking while others were more promising. Regardless, I spent a majority of my time, applying, preparing, and interviewing for an array of professional positions, all in the small segment of (a brutally stressful) three months. While some may have thought my go-getter attitude was a little excessive, I was determined to find a job as immediately as possible, and decided that if I wanted any job right away, I had to let go of the idea of my dream job. However, as my job application obsession became so engrossing, eventually, I forgot what my dream job even was.

Now, though only months later, I am a completely different person. I have found a job that I enjoy, and I am moving towards achieving my dream of working in public health. My mindset has completely transformed, and I feel so much better for it. With this growth, I have picked up a few key take-away points about post-college unemployment and how to get through alive. Hope this is helpful!

(1) Know What You Want

Knowing what you want from a job is critical. When you begin applying for jobs, you will quickly realize that luck, timing, and a number of complimenting elements combine to decide whether or not you are hired for any particular position, and, more likely than not, it will be nearly impossible to get your “dream job” right off the bat. In fact, depending on their particular industry, my friends have applied to as little as three, or as many as seventy-plus, jobs before they received any offers!

On top of the high likelihood of immediate rejection, you will learn that with each new rejection it becomes more and more difficult to remember what your dream job is, and more and more appealing to settle for whatever job you can get. Frankly, more often than not, this may be the best choice, too! But, do not fret; if you keep your true intentions in the back of your mind, you can continue to achieve them, even if that achievement is not immediate. If and when you are offered a position, ask yourself: “how will this help me move towards my goal?” If, for example, you have 20 dollars to your name and rent deadline is approaching, then the answer is: “to survive!” Or, maybe, if, at the moment, you are offered a job in a less-than-ideal position, but within a company you admire, you can pin this opportunity, not as a set-backwards, but as a launching pad for your next career move. The possibilities are varying, but the key to making the most of your given circumstance is to keep your goal in the back of your mind. Having a clear idea of what you want will make the less fun stuff more tolerable and prevent you from losing sight of your dreams. I would recommend even writing your goal on paper to make it more concrete!

(2) Don’t Bring it Home

When I was applying to jobs, I was living with a roommate who was in the same boat and spending much of her time applying for jobs simultaneously. Quickly, our conversations began to focus entirely on jobs, applications, etc. and we were on edge, even in our own apartment. My advice to you is this: take your interviews seriously- prepare, organize, and excel- but then leave it at the door when you go home! Set aside a time in the day (i.e. three hours each morning) where you will research jobs, send emails, etc. and then stick to that routine! Applying for jobs is a job in itself, and its rarely healthy to take your work home. Have an escape route. Plan fun activities for the times when you are not looking for or interviewing for jobs. Spend time with friends who don’t cause you stress, watch movies, read books, and do low-cost activities that you enjoy. For me, it was most important to spend time with people I love, because support is critical during unemployment!

(3) Be Busy

Another risk during unemployment is the sheer amount of free time you will have. Although having nothing to do can be the most wonderful feeling in the world at the right moment, when you are too bored, you run the risk of slipping into dangerous territory emotionally and physically. It is easy to ruminate and feel sorry for yourself when you have excess time to reflect, so as a preventive measure, make sure you’ll be busy! Maybe this means volunteering, finding a part-time job, joining a sports team, taking a class, or staring a blog (hehe), but do something that will give you a purpose each day! Unless you are extremely introverted and would be better energized alone, try above all else, to make time to see friends and family and surround yourself with people because, as I said before, support is critical! On top of keeping you clear of an emotional break-down, staying busy creates opportunities for success through possible networks. The more people you meet, the more jobs you will hear about and the more pathways to those jobs will be revealed. What’s more, you will be energized through your activity and that will be further motivation to continue the job search!

(4) Know You’re Not Alone

Almost all people who have a job had to apply for it at one point. We can almost all empathize with the scary, anxiety-provoking, somewhat isolating time of applying for jobs and drowning out the voice in your mind that questions if you may be unemployed for eternity. You are not a failure because you do not have a job, and you will not be unemployed forever. Stay optimistic, keep searching, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself and find peace in your life even while you are getting your way out of unemployement.

Penelope: a quick, laugh-out-loud read that may be slightly over-the-top

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B (86)

Penelope (2012), is the debut novel from Harvard graduate and Huffington Post writer, Rebecca Harrington, and emerges as a fast-moving, totally hilarious, and often pointedly realistic (if, at times, tragically so) novel on a girl’s first semester at Harvard University.

Penelope enters Harvard as an “undeclared” freshman, who seems to be dramatically unprepared- and apathetic for that matter- in comparison to her hyper-competitive peers.

Penelope knows very little about “getting ahead” at Harvard (especially in relation to her “friends” who seem to have read quite a few orientation books that Penelope, herself, neglected). Her naivete sets her up for an assortment of hilariously awkward engagements such as auditioning for a singing group, despite knowingly close to nothing about singing. Plus, Penelope’s non-pulsed personality, and constant desire to seem agreeable to all, add an additional factor to make for some laugh-out-loud conversations and situations.

What I ultimately loved about Penelope was that, despite it being a witty illustration of Penelope’s mundane life, it does dig a little deeper than what is on the surface. In her juxtaposition of Penelope’s slightly sanguine apathy towards her “mediocrity” at Harvard against the dramatic break-downs of her over-achieving peers, Harrington forces the reader to question who really has it better: Penelope or those aforementioned peers who seem to have mastered the recipe for “success.”

One of my favorite citations of the novel comes when Penelope and her roommate, Emma, discuss Emma’s recent “A-minus.”

(Emma) “It’s not good enough for law school! If I was planning on doing nothing with my life, then [an A-minus] would be fine.”

(Penelope) “But its pretty early on, you know. I’m sure it doesn’t matter much. You could even have fun all semester and it wouldn’t matter.”

(Emma) “I am having fun! I am having incredible fun! I am meeting incredible people and I am making the best friends of my life!”

And while it is clear that poor Emma really does not have quite those “best friends” she adamantly defends, what is truly depressing is her need to convey a constant aura of success, even in her social life. It is a sadly realistic illustration of modern-day perfectionism. Meanwhile, Penelope is confused as to why she is not living the “ideal” college experience- going to cool parties and having hoards of friends. Harrington suggests that Penelope’s problem may be less of a reflection of her “under-achievement,” and more of a reflection of her (unintentional) refusal to self-inflate. In a Facebook-centric world where individuals have the ability to publicly present their lives in whichever light they choose, this theme hits hauntingly close to home.

My only criticism of Penelope is that Penelope’s character is slightly over-exaggerated in her naivete and social failures. While her experience is refreshingly closer to my own than say, the experiences of college students on shows such as Greek or the recent movie, Spring Breakers, Penelope’s personality, honestly, approaches the border of “socially-challenged.” And though her awkwardness provides the backbone of much of the novel’s humor, Penelope may have been an even more powerful character if that awkwardness had been subdued a few shades.

Ultimately, Penelope is a fun, quick read that will leave you laughing out loud. I would recommend this book to 20-somethings who want to reminisce on their college years, and take comfort in a shared feeling of “inadequacy” due to failure to meet some illusion of the “perfect college experience.”

10 Girls To Watch: An enjoyable read that celebrates female resilience and compassion

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A- (92)

From Charity Shumway, 10 Girls to Watch is the often funny, and undeniably passion-stirring, story of Dawn West, a quirky, aspiring writer and fresh college graduate, struggling to make her way in New York City.

We are introduced to Dawn at a turning point in her life: she has just secured a temporary job- a writing job- at Charm magazine (unashamedly similar to real-life Glamour magazine), to track and interview the winners of the “10 Girls to Watch Contest” over the past decades, in honor of the contest’s anniversary. While she realizes the pay is stingy (and the work environment consists of her, one desk, and an empty basement filled with old files), Dawn is thrilled to even dip her toe into profession writing after spending her past year-plus working in low-paying “temp” jobs and blogging about lawn up-keep, whilst she was distributing obscene amounts of resumes and applications for writing positions (to no avail).

Undoubtedly, the story may appear familiar on its surface- little fish in the big city tries to pave her path as a writer. But please do not be deceived; 10 Girls to Watch adds a unique, and relatable, perspective to the literary world through the honest, often hilarious, voice of Dawn. Dawn has a number of “factors” working against her. For one, she is on the brink of “living her dreams.” She dangles over the edge a path she could follow, though never really knowing if she will fall into it. Dawn lives with the constant, though not-overpowering, knowledge that her project with Charm is temporary, and as soon as she is complete, she could be hauling herself back to “temp” agencies, resume in hand. On top of that, Dawn criticizes herself for failing to write, despite her deep-routed vision that she will, one day, be a writer. And finally, Dawn spends her days interviewing former “10 Girls to Watch” winners, which means she has the opportunity to speak with some of the most remarkable, passionate women in the country; and, meanwhile, juxtapose their stories of success against her own. Mixed with the pressure to find a man, manage her life with a difficult roommate, put food on her table at night, and stop herself from obsessing about her ex, Dawn is set up for a full-on depression, and at times, it does seem that she slips closer and closer in that direction. Yet, what is so entrancing about 10 Girls to Watch, is Dawn’s resilience despite. In fact, she (and, ideally, readers as well), chooses to find inspiration in the tales of Charm’s former greats, using their experiences to shed light on her own. It would not a reach to label 10 Girls to Watch as a “coming-of-age” novel, as it portrays a clear learning curve while Dawn becomes increasingly self-aware, and consequently, directs herself closer to the person she aspires to be. Above all, Dawn’s story celebrates female empowerment, strength, and even sisterhood, in a way that is just subtle enough to create a powerful, lasting impact.

10 Girls to Watch is highly readable, quick-moving, and realistic novel that is a perfect read for a “20-something woman,” but will be inspiring for any age or gender. Chumway creates a likeable character with an appealing voice, and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Admission: Regettably, Dissapointing Film


C+ (77)

Yes, I am shedding a silent tear as I write that Admission, the recent film starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, failed to deliver despite its pairing of two of Hollywood’s funniest, most likeable actors. Neither actor disappointed in delivering the charm, wits, and personalities that we have come to expect of them respectively, their performances could not save this unlikable film.

Admission is the story of Portia Nathan (Fey), an admissions officer at Princeton University, who is relishing her responsibility to choose the nations brightest, most talented high school seniors for the upcoming freshman class. On top of this steady, life-encompassing career,- which she has been pursuing for the past 10 years- Portia lives with her snotty, uppity, boyfriend (played by Michael Sheen), who pats her head like a puppy, and condescendingly refers to her as a golden-retriever, completing her pleasantly- but equally dismally- safe life.

Portia meets John Pressman (Rudd), principle of an alternative high school, on a high school campus visit, and the pair spark a connection from the get-go, largely due to John’s fevor to talk to Portio one-on-one. John is an odd character- on the one hand, he is sweet and charming (it is Paul Rudd), and on the other, he is unbearably arrogant and unlikable. We soon discover that John’s ardent pursuit of Portia runs further than a simple crush- he wants to introduce her to Jeremiah (played by Nat Wolff), a student at John’s high school, and whom John believes is Portia’s biological son.

The plot mainly rotates around the arc of getting Jeremiah into Princeton, and though he has been coined “prodegy” who scored nearly perfect SATs and straight fives on his AP tests, despite never taking an AP class, has a D+ average, and a resume that is far below Prinecton standards. Portia begins to feel deeply for Jeremiah, and though she does not tell him that she believes he is her son, she continues to the teenager and becomes increasingly invested in his life (and- suprise!- John’s as well.)  So begins a tail of mildly humerus shenanigans as Portia and John try to primp Jerimiah’s application and juggle the “characters” that complete their lives, including Portia’s hippy mother (played by Lily Tomlin). And though these side characters are supposed to add humor, ultimately, the jokes are frustrating, and the hostile relationship between Portia and her mother is suprisingly depressing in contrast to the film’s comedic tone.

Although there are a handful of laughs scattered about Admission, the total piece is very one-dimensional, lacking any real depth or meaning. Rudd’s, John, does shed a refreshingly realistic light on the life on a “humanitarian do-gooder,” as John hops from developing country to country, neglecting the fact that his adopted son from Africa would rather stay in one place and live a “predictable” life. However, the only true saving grace of the film is Fey, who is funny and honest, and adds an extremely appealing repeatability to her character even just through her timing, expressions, and mannerism.

All in all, Admission is a predictable romantic comedy that, despite working with deep messages around parents and their children and the bonds that connect them, just barely touches the surface of the depth that it could have reached.

The Forgotten Garden: a beautiful escape into coastal England

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A (94)

The Forgotten Garden, written by Australian novelist Kate Morton, is a compelling story of identity, friendship, family, and secrets, which follows one woman’s search for her true identity, as unvieled through the eyes of the important figures who shape her life, both before and after her. With a backbone of a compelling plot and an intriguing mystery, Morton’s novel truly enchants through its beautifully wound dialogue, imagery and voice. This novel will transport readers into these women’s lives, and straight into their “forgotten garden.”

The Forgotten Garden, is written from the perspective of, primarily, three women, and jumps through time and voice with each unique chapter. The first of these women is Nell, a rather uptight woman who, in her early 20s, and on the brink of her marriage, is told that she is not her parent’s biological child, and in fact, was found abandoned on a ship sent from England to Australia. Nell is crippled by this news, ends her engagement, and begins leading a new, more detached life. She begins her personal journey to self-discovery by tracking her past, ultimately leading her to “the forgotten garden,” an enclosed garden set at a cottage on the Cornish coast on the Blackhurst Manor.

Many years later, Nell’s granddaughter, Cassandra, is living her own story. Cassandra grew up with Nell as her primary guardian, as her own mother (and Nell’s biological daughter) abandoned her at a young age. Cassandra’s story begins in present day, with Nell’s recent death. Cassandra, too, is quickly propelled into the mystery of Nell’s identity, and sets a personal mission to travel to the Blackhurst Manor and collect the final pieces of her grandmother’s puzzle.

Finally, many, many years prior to Cassandra’s search, Eliza Makepeace, a dark fairy-tale writter, is living her own, tragic, story- one which, of course, is intrinsically related to the Blackhurst Manor. Eliza’s fairytales are sprikled throughout the novel, adding an additional layer of depth and fantasy.

All three of these women, their stories, and the characters they interact with respectively are compelling. Although the story reads like honey, -smooth and sweet, without any jagged edges- you will find yourself itching to discover more and more about these women as they themselves unveil new truths.

The Forgotten Garden is deliciously savory, and its poetic prose will transport readers right onto Blackhurst Manor. Morton’s soft tone almost reminds me of an impressionist painting, and this pleasantness alone was enough to have kept me eagerly flipping through her pages. Yet, in actuality, The Forgotten Garden is a compelling mystery as well. Cassandra’s undertaking of Nell’s mission to self-discovery reveals many layers of a story that is, though not shocking, unexpected at times. Through these interwoven tales, Morton probes into themes of family, abandonment, and purpose and identity are probed. I definitely recommend this novel if you are looking for a way to escape to the Cornish coasts without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Girls in White Dresses: a social commentary

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B (85)

Going into Jennifer Close’s, Girl’s in White Dresses, I was sort of hoping that I wouldn’t be stepping into a story that glorified “finding the ideal partner,” or proposed that “marriage” is a key element of being a fulfilled, satisfied human-being- and, in some ways, I did end up getting just that.

But do not be mislead- Girl’s in White Dresses, is not your conventional romance novel.

The plot of Close’s debut novel is centered on a group of college friends, primarily Isabella and her friends Mary and Lauren, who have moved on from their days at Boston College and are now adults living and working in New York City. In addition to following the trials and tribulations of these three characters, the novel is sprinkled with stories and musings of the girl’s friends from school and co-workers. In its own way, each of these stories is, respectively, centered on love in some way, or, more accurately, the pains and frustrations that accompany finding, living, and maintaining romantic relationships. Indeed, the character’s stories are largely melancholic, and I did find myself wishing for at least a glimmer- no, not even a glimmer; I would settle for a speck!- of hope to shine through and remind me that the trials of love are worth it. (Ok, maybe this derives from a, uh-hem, healthy “rom-com” addiction and one-too-many viewings of “The Notebook.”)

This is not Twilight, folks: there is no sparkly aura around any of these men. In fact, upon reflection, I can’t remember any moments where, as a reader, I found any of Close’s character’s significant others to be appealing in any real way at all (sorry Darcy fans). In spite of this, men and relationships play a central role in the story’s of each character, and eventually, though their goals seems to be more about finding a “relationship,” than finding the “perfect man.” Maybe this is what sort of irked me about the novel as a whole- it almost feels as though the women are “settling” with mediocre men in order to fulfill a social expectation to be in a relationship. Close is being realistic in her portrayal of her character’s relationships- without the filter of any rose-colored light. However, it might have been more powerful if these women, who constantly question the line between how much annoyance and discord they should tolerate in their relationships before “normal” becomes “destructive,” found a little more joy in their relationships. The women spend so much of their time expressing frustrations, guilt, fears, and confusion, that it is hard to understand why they would even want to be married and have families in the first place.

Despite its rather dismal stories, Girls in White Dresses, does feel like a comedy. The ups-and-downs of these women are dusted with enough sarcasm and wit that they feel light-hearted. I truly did enjoy getting to know each of the character’s- her dreams and her joys. My only criticism is that I wished they didn’t feel such a pressing need to be married, but instead, viewed love as the “whipped cream” on top of their lives- not necessary, but a sweet addition. But, I suppose, that is the point Close is making. Maybe Girls in White Dresses is not a romance novel- maybe its a social commentary.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?: Totally Relatable, Totally Hilarious

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A (94)

There is something about Mindy Kaling’s literary voice that makes me feel like I- or virtually any of my girl friends for that matter- could contrive my own autobiographical best-seller, simply by compiling miscellaneous life experiences, putting them to paper, and publishing it as a book. Although this may sound like a criticism, I actually mean it as the most sincere form of praise. See, the glory of Mindy’s voice is that she is not your average Jolene- she was, in fact, a head writer and actor on one of America’s most popular comedy shows, a movie actress, and is now the star and creator of her own comedy show, The Mindy Project. Yet, Mindy has the ability to lace her experiences with the accompanying emotions and motives, which are so raw and simple that women will easily relate. This allows Mindy’s experience, say, getting her first paid writing position on The Office, to seem actually seem pretty normal, considering that is actually quite “Hollywood-glam.”

What’s more, Mindy is likable. Her accounts are on the opposite spectrum of self-inflating, and yet, she also portrays a genuine confidence and happiness in the many areas of her life- from her culture, to her career, to her style, to her friends. Mindy speaks candidly about her body, and all its transformation- which, of course, is refreshing, considering the social pressure for women to be thin, especially in Hollywood. Not only does Mindy proudly considers herself “chubby,” but she further details the distinctions between the many classes of “weight,” which itself makes for a good laugh. It’s through this connectable, agreeable, voice that Mindy shares her story of growing up as a socially-awkward high school kid, becoming a college student, living as an unemploymened college-grad, taking a job as a nanny/aspiring comic writer, and finally becoming a professional television writer. She is simple, realistic, and hilarious. Plus, Mindy is smart, and she has certainly mastered a balance between self-deprication and pride. Because she describes her hilarious triles and tribulations over the years honestly and realistically, it is easy to celebrate along with Mindy as she finds success- and you’ll probably be rooting for her long after you finish her memoir.

As the title suggests, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? accurately captures a gamet of concerns, motives, and emotions that we share as women. I definitely recommend this read to cheer you up on a low day. P.S. This is a great book to read on your commute to work, or while you’re waiting for the dentist or something. I got this on audio, and I still come back to different passages when I’m jogging for a guaranteed laugh.

I’ve Got Your Number: light-hearted rom-com with the Kinsella spark

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B (85)

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella was initially recommended to me by my close friend and partner in rom-com crime, who told me it would be a fun “beachy” read. She was spot on.

Though this was the first of Kinsella’s book that I read, I eventually got a second, 20’s Girl, (which I may review in the future, but was less fun for me to read than the former), and I have come to appreciate her light, feminine, witty voice that carries you through her books like a ride on a fluffy, marshmallow cloud. I hope that didn’t take it too far. Let me put it another way: it’s the kind of story you want to read while your getting a pedicure and you’ve got a Frappuccino on your hand.

I’ve Got Your Number is the story of physical therapist and future wife, Poppy Wyatt, a kind, generous, and intelligent woman who can’t seem to truly identify those traits in herself. What makes this read so fun is the combination of likable characters and a funny, twisted plot. The story begins when Poppy loses the ring her PhD fiancé gave to her (and is a family heirloom) at her own engagement party when a fire alarm is triggered. While frantically scrambling to retrieve her precious ring, Poppy has her phone stolen, and is forced to “borrow” a neglected phone that she finds in a reception-area trashcan, which leads to her first conversation with Sam Roxton, the phone’s true owner, and high-level businessman who believes the phone should be respectfully returned. Of course, Poppy is still frantic in her ring search and decides to continue “borrowing” the phone under the promise that she will forward all messages for Sam to his email. So begins a quick-paced, laugh-out-loud unfolding of Poppy and Sam’s mobile relationship. Poppy and Sam, general opposites in nature, tend to frustrate each other with their differences, but ultimately, learn to complement one another through them: while Sam helps Poppy look “smart” in a scrabble game, Poppy helps Sam gain office respect by sending out considerate emails. The dynamic sets up for a funny journey toward self-respect and (surprise!) maybe even romance.

As I told my friend (who will mock me for saying it), I was disappointed with the novel’s ending. It seems rushed, unrealistic, and frankly, so cliché. But, as she would remind me, this is a rom-com; what did I really except? With that in mind, I’ve Got Your Number could just be the fun, quick beach read you need for these lovely summer days.

Accept Your Unique Experiences and Live Your Life




Freudian belief holds that during development, an individual who misses out on a certain “stage”- for whatever the reason, tragic or not- will be fixated at that stage; and I can’t help but wonder if there is some truth to that thought. While I cannot attest to any oral fixations, I can loosely apply this principle to my own sense of disappointment during my undergraduate years. As I would imagine most people do, I started my first year of college with a sense of bubbly, giddy (and maybe a little naïve) excitement. I had moved away from home for the first time, was eating ice cream-based dinners in crowded dining-halls, hanging out with new and interesting friends, and dancing with guys in basement parties. It was a simultaneously terribly frightening and wonderfully thrilling experience. However, during the summer between my first and second years at school, my roommate, and closest friend, was diagnosed with a serious illness, and though I did not immediately understand, everything would change. Out of respect for my friend- an incredible woman who coped with her illness and treatment with strength and patience- I will not get into the heavy details about the period that followed. Ultimately, it was a high-stress, melancholy-filled year that pushed all of our friendships, spirits, and beliefs, and changed my outlook on pretty much everything. In the middle of our second semester, my friend was informed that her treatment had been successful, but by then, we had all changed. As for myself, I waited out the final weeks of school just ready to move back with my family and crash for the four months of summer. I did a lot of lounging on the couch during that time- Ben & Jerry became my close friends.

Now, I am a recent graduate, and I feel a sense of loss: a loss for that “typical” college experience that I had in my freshman year. Looking back, I never really went wild during college- never joined a sorority or club or dressed inappropriately on Halloween.  Now, I am a little worried that missed stage will come spouting out of me in some highly inappropriate way- something akin to Natalie Portman’s drunken behavior at a work-place Christmas party in the movie No Strings Attached (“you look like a pumkin, bitch!”). But, at the same time, I have to wonder, did I truly “miss out”? I mean, I had some pretty fantastic times in college. During my third year of school I studied and interned abroad in Paris. Beside stepping out of my comfort-zone and speaking the foreign language, I met incredible people- some of the best I have ever known- and made lasting friendships (plus I got to eat fresh baguettes on the daily, so that wasn’t too bad either). On top of that, I spent two of my college spring breaks doing ASB (Alternative Spring Breaks) in NYC and Arkansas, got a scholarship to present my academic research at an international conference, and trained for two half-marathons. Plus, during my sophomore year, while I wasn’t partying, I was excelling at school and landed a paid research position with an incredible women’s health initiative that helped me to realize my passion for public health and inspired me to apply to an accelerated B.A./M.P.H program. I even accumulated enough credits to graduate a semester early and spend the next months living with a friend across the country in Los Angeles while I learned the ropes of networking, job-searching, and eventually, working a professional job. Sure, I only rarely rolled into my apartment in the wee hours of the morning or dressed up in sequins while dancing at roof parties, but I did have some pretty awesome times. Maybe, just maybe, my experience is still great, even if it wasn’t the typical one. I grew up a little faster, but I became stronger as a student and person because of it.

So, in the end, I can’t know for sure if Freud is right. Will I go crazy during my twenties to compensate for the drunken nights I missed out on in school? I guess I’ll find out. What I do know is that I need to let go of those feelings of regret and disappointment for having an “alternative” college experience. In reality, I would guess that there many others out there, who, like me, hold their own sense of disappointment because, well, life happens, and sometimes plans need to be shifted in response. We can’t change what happened in the past, but we can choose how we live our lives now and in the future. For me, that means taking advantage of the good that happened during college- i.e. getting into a competitive graduate program and discovering my dream career- and using that as a fuel to live my current life, here and now, to the fullest. We all have our own unique stories and experiences; we need to learn, accept, and eventually move on from our past in order to keep moving forward and cultivating a life we love and appreciate.