Getting taken seriously as a woman in the workplace has been a problem for many decades.

The 1980 comedy movie 9 to 5 tells the hilarious (and frustrating) story of three women struggling to be taken seriously at work by a horrible misogynist.

In the film, Dabney Coleman plays Franklin Hart, the most “sexist egotistical lying hypocritical bigot” of a boss, ever. The three women who have to deal with his jerkiness are played by Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin.

The film is a must-see, even all these years later, for women who might be frustrated with being taken seriously. On the positive, we have seen much in the way of positive progress (women aren’t automatically relegated to the steno pool these days).

However, with the 2017 sexual harassment and abuse scandals that have brought down many powerful men (such as Today show host Matt Lauer), 9 to 5 remains topical today.

In the film 9 to 5, Franklin Hart (Coleman) is constantly hitting on his secretary Doralee Rhodes (Parton). Initially, the other women think she is actively currying his favor, creating suspicion among the women.

When they find out they are all Hart’s victim in one form or another, some amazing, hilarious scenes ensure.

Lessons to Be Learned Today for Women in the Workplace

9 to 5 was a funny film, not just because it was completely over the top in many scenes. It had to base that extreme comedy on some realities. These include women employees being sexually harassed by the boss, and not trusting each other because of the toxic environment.

The women in the film succeeded because they banded together and fought back rather than remaining silent. However, in the real world, we cannot go to the extremes shown in the film. So, what can we do when confronted with someone not taking us seriously?

Beyond 9 To 5: Getting Taken Seriously as a Woman

Back in the 80s and 90s, many women tried to compensate for the sexism in the workplace in how they dressed. Wearing sexy clothes was not an option. Women started to wear “power suits.”

In many respects, the big, bulky shoulder pads popularized in the 80s was about trying to express some masculine power in a female form.

These days, dress codes are much more relaxed, and men don’t even wear suits so much anymore except in more formal work settings. Women might show up in jeans and sneakers, depending on the job.

And while it can pay to “dress for success” for both men and women, women aren’t under as much pressure these days to try to dress like a masculine woman.

The modern belief is also that women should not be penalized based on their clothing choices.

Forging Your Own Destiny as a Woman in Business

Unfortunately, as we have seen from the recent sexual harassment scandals, women are still vulnerable to sexual predators in the workplace. Blaming it on clothing is not an option. Staying silent is no longer an option. However, sometimes you can report the problem and it is still not taken care of.

Fortunately, more and more women are in charge and sometimes you just have to make your move. Forge your own path. Get a better job elsewhere or start your own business.

While you cannot control what every man around you does, you can control your response to it. This may not mean you lasso the guy like Dolly Parton’s character in 9 to 5, but you might just go lasso yourself a lawyer.

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