It’s always fun to see a little bit of sexism in local advertising. And by “fun” and mean “overall gross and disappointing.” This is an ad I saw in the skyway today for the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, aka the ritzy place where you can get an MBA.
Since the early 1980s, “glass ceiling” is a term used to describe employment discrimination against women and minorities, the idea that you can see people at the top but sexism and racism continually prevent you from being promoted.
You can see from the graph in the Wikipedia entry on Glass Ceiling, that this discrimination has nothing to do with education.
This ad posits that if more women get a degree in business, then there won’t be any more glass ceiling. Easy solution, ladies! Get your MBA and then you’ll be just as qualified as every man in a top position! There’s no actual discrimination, you just don’t have enough degrees from prominent business schools!
This whole idea is, of course, bullshit. Systematic discrimination exists, and it’s not because women aren’t trying hard enough to get advanced degrees. (In fact, more women than ever are getting MBAs. Whether it’s worth it is another issue.) It’s a classic instance of blaming sexism on individual accomplishments rather than a cultural prejudice for which there is pretty solid scientific proof, to say nothing of anecdotal evidence.
Why this ad is especially disappointing: it’s an ad for the University of Minnesota, my alma mater. It’s where I got my master’s degree in Mass Communication— where my skills in recognizing stupid sexist advertising were finely honed. I’d venture a guess that at least one of the agency folks who created this ad went to the U of M, and it’s sad to note that no one in Carlson’s communications department thought that “maybe this isn’t a good way to get more women to apply to our school.”
I would like to see this ad taken down because it takes a useful term for describing the concept of systematic discrimination and uses it to blame women for not being good enough at their careers, for not having enough accomplishments, and for generally being less than. It’s fucking bullshit sexism, and there’s no excuse.