|Seal of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Andy folded his hands in front of his face as if in prayer
and leaned his forehead against his thumbs. When he lifted his head, pink splotches appeared high on his cheeks. "The Management Committee considered this very issue last year and declined to take action."
"What? You mean the exclusionary effect, the expense--it's all okay?"
"Not okay, but...a sensitive topic with strong feelings on both sides. The committee decided it was best left to the discretion of each partner."
"Wait. You're saying each partner has the discretion to spend a hundred thousand dollars or more in a night for client entertainment--whether strippers or...or a string quartet--and get reimbursed?"
"Partners must trust one another to exercise good judgment. That's the essence of a partnership, after all."
"Did the committee understand the disproportionate negative impact this practice has on women?"
A Maggie Mahoney Novel
By Kate McGuinness
It was 1963 when I started working in the Personnel Office. A year later, I became secretary to the Director who was charged with the responsibility of updating, disseminating, and implementing the new employment laws that came into existence in 1964. It had been a very long time since I had read anything about filing with the EEOC, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination...
Yet, here I was reading Terminal Ambition by Kate McGuiness, written as if this was all new "stuff..."
It had started to change around 1985; this author essentially was telling me that the United States was back where it was in the early 1960s. My heart sunk... but I wasn't the least surprised... Because by the time I left work there, I had planned to file my own legal suit...
Maggie Mahoney had worked hard--the extra hours and extra research that had finally won her a partnership. She deserved it and knew it, nor did she think much about the other women in the firm--she had her own career goals and had gotten where she was because she had worked her head off to get there. I commend Kate McGuiness for developing her character this way, because when she began to have a change
She had always known that everybody felt she had made partner by sleeping with one of the partners. But she had loved him and ignored such gossip. But then he was killed in an accident and she soon realized a change when she went back to work--a change in the way she was treated.
At the same time, word was going around every place that a large law firm was going to be investigated by the EEOC...
So in response an internal self-review was to start. Maggie was named as one of the members of that group. Do I dare say that she was dumb (or naive) enough to think that the committee was a good thing and would be of great help?
What she found instead was just the opposite...
Readers may think that the novel is overkill--that too many different examples of discrimination were included. In fact, this book has more sexual issues than an erotic novel...LOL
The key thing that these sexual issues were about harassment and discrimination. The example I enjoyed most was when clients were going to be entertained by the in house staff. The female attorneys or associates were excluded because they routinely took their clients to strip clubs. The involved females were told that the clients would feel uncomfortable participating in the "services" if their female lawyers were present. Ahhh, the sexual fun has soooo evolved... [sarcasm intended]
Maggie was astounded when she heard this, and especially amazed that up to $100,000 may be spent in just one night!
You see, somewhere around the 80s and 90s, the desire for power rose again, and simply eliminated all that had been accomplished in the 60s and 70s. Many readers will read this book and exclaim it is revolutionary, illuminating, and will help you "think about going to work and what you can do there..." What I will say bluntly is that if you have faced any form of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination as illustrated in Terminal Ambition, run, don't walk, to the nearest phone and call the EEOC. Alternatively, check out Kate's site, www.womensrightswriter. My own lawyer explained that my own case had gone on so long and was so encompassing that I could not afford to pay her to sufficiently study all the materials in order to represent her. Don't let your own situation continue if there is one... Seek help!
Kudos to Kate McGuinness for starting this series. And for her becoming a full-time advocate for Women's Rights. I consider this a must-read for every women now working...
I did not find your novel entertaining Kate...It read to me more like non-fiction
simply because I've seen so much of it. But I do look forward to the series because I
know that fiction brings reality home to many of us who might never think about
their own rights under law... Thank you for writing this series...
After leaving the corporate world, Kate was determined to master writing and riding, pastimes that often led to confusion in the telling. Her studies of creative writing proved to be more successful than her horseback adventures which included a broken leg! However, her love of horses remains.
Kate also took the opportunity to be more fully involved with her son’s life – too involved, he would say. She enjoyed watching scores of soccer games and cheering his team on to a divisional state championship. All grown up now, her son lives in Eastern Europe and teaches English as a second language.
In addition to Terminal Ambition, Kate writes on women’s issues for a number of online sites. Her essays have appeared in Role/Reboot, Jezebel, Fem2pt0, Women’s Media Center and Ms. JD. You can follow her on Twitter @womnsrightswrtr.
Kate lives in a utopian community in the Midwest with her husband, dogs and innumerable squirrels.