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Movie ?Nine To Five? Essay, Research Paper

1. A 1980?s comedy, the movie ?Nine to Five? takes place in a large office complex. Two secretaries and an office manager bonded by their mutual dislike for their ?sexist, lying, hypocritical, bigot? boss, fantasize about torturing him to the end of his days. Fantasy becomes reality when a series of misunderstandings provide the women an opportunity to hold their boss hostage while they restructure the workplace. In analyzing and comparing Kanter?s model to the movie, this paper will dissect how the movie supports the organizational theory of success. If opportunity, power and numbers influence individual performance and career success, then this movie clearly suggests that women, when given them can produce favorable outcomes for a corporation.


?…the boss?s status determined the power of the secretary? (Kanter, 75). Dolly Parton plays Doralee, the personal Secretary of Mr. Hart. She gases up his car, runs errands for him and there are rumors she obtained her status by sleeping with him. Doralee with her physical attractiveness is ideal for the image of Mr. Hart. As stated by Kanter, the secretary is the first person seen as a representation of the executive. She is a ?pretty package?, that continuously receives the cold shoulder from fellow workers who believe not in her ability or merit. Their disdain for Mr. Hart spills over into their feelings for Doralee who seems to have it easy. In her absence, Violet is called upon to fetch coffee; thereby, creating the image that no matter what the formal rank, the boss calls the shots. Formal tasks associated with her title seem irrelevant as work #

is funneled out into the secretarial pool. As stated earlier, Violet got coffee and ran an errand for Mr. Hart, but clearly states that neither exist in her job description.


?The more closed the circle, the more difficult it is for ?outsiders? to break in? (Kanter, 68). In the opening to the movie, the main characters are greeted by a Black mail room clerk, who states that the opportunity to break out of the mail room prison will never happen as long as management continues to hire from the outside. There exist no way to move up in the company. The new hire, Judy is a divorced women who has never worked. She holds a slot that could easily have been the mail room clerk, if opportunities for advancement existed at lower levels. After working for twelve years with the company, Office Manager Violet will be denied another promotion to a man that she has trained and has five years seniority over. Mr. Hart, Violet?s boss, was also trained by her; yet, he holds the keys to her career success. Long service and commitment mean little when the most ideal candidate is an educated, family man. This man is a duplicate of the company model and projects the homogeneity that must be maintained in order for the balance of power to continue in favor of men. Opportunity does not exist for those who outwardly do not project this image. Mr. Hart continues to hire over Violet in an effort to surround himself with ?guys? that are his clone. Opportunity also dictates the persons ability to be flexible to get ahead. The movie continuously discusses themes about teamwork and flexibility. A manager can make demands on the time of his people, if they believe their contribution will give them the opportunity to move forward.


Opportunity affords the employee the ability to create a path to career success. The hierarchy of power dictates who is accountable, who has the access to


resources and who is responsible for producing results. In the movie, Mr. Hart has the power. He successfully avoids face to face relationships with one signature. Memos state what changes will occur without having to implement them beyond the pen. Violet?s promotion and her career are dependent on Hart. She trades off her own sensibility by ?playing it safe to get the promotion?. Hart lords over his subordinates, Kanter refers to this as a displacement of aggression. In the movie, Maria Delgado is fired for discussing salaries while in the restroom. In my opinion, the uncertainty of the workplace under Hart?s command lead him to firing Maria, because she could make how the company distributes and appreciates the work of its employees public knowledge. ?Power issues occupy center stage not because individuals are greedy for more, but because some people are incapacitated without it? (Kanter 205). Color coding accounts to improve efficiency was an idea stolen from Violet by Mr. Hart. This idea solidifies his power. Although Hart has been bushwhacked and kidnapped by his secretaries, the company experiences a 20% rise in productivity. The work environment becomes more personable and family-friendly. Hart?s power increases to a promotion to Brazil. His service and devotion to the company assist him in moving ahead. Power also give Hart the opening to embezzle from the company. He steals without detection.


Being associated with the group that has the largest command of opportunity and power, places women and minorities in dead-end, no win situation when dealing with company advancement. The most ideal position for a women in the movie, seemed to stop at Roz the Administrative Assistant. Moving into the formal ranks of a career fast track seem impossible for those occupying the lower status within the company. Blacks will remain in the mail room, firing women without


blinking and keeping women in that pool for as long as they can bear it, will continue. During the movie, Violet states you ?can?t quit its the same all over?. Women and minorities were not valued as assets to the company if the traditional balance of power remains with the dominant culture. However, culture and tokenism were not clearly explored in the movie. Obvious changes for minorities and women were presented after the kidnapping of Mr. Hart by the creation of programs geared toward advancing the careers of all employees. As stated earlier, the company experienced a 20% rise in productivity when programs were created to revitalize the workplace. Salary policies reflected equal pay for equal work. A child care center was created. It was stated by Mr. Tinsworthy (CEO of the company), he was glad they were brought back since the war. Work areas reflected the personality of the worker and persons with disabilities were hired. Job sharing to accommodate part-time workers was also implemented. These family-friendly policies worked to created a change in how power and opportunity are distributed to the numbers. ?Change in the behavior and treatment of women in token positions is strongly tied to shifting proportions? (Kanter, 241). Violet eventually becomes a Vice President and the policies created by the women stand as a positive change for the company.

In closing, the movie shares a similar premise with Kanter in how corporations must begin to acknowledge that change should occur to stimulate growth opportunities. This in turn will support individual career aspirations and increase productivity. Affording women and minorities opportunities can only increase competence within the global marketplace. ?Workin? nine to five…what a way to make a livin?? (movie theme song, Dolly Parton).

2. Ellen Balka?s paper, ?Where have all the feminist information technology critics gone?? seems a battle cry to all latter day feminist looking for a cause and acting on


the next wave in social movements. As discussed in class, social movements go in stages and are trigged by unknown causes. Improvements in technology have afforded women the ability to work outside of the home. This in turn has enabled a shift in gender roles, as more men learn to cook, clean and become primary caretakers of the children.

Tavris in the book, ?The Mismeasure of Woman?, recognizes these changes as an addition to skills that increase the qualities of gender roles. ?People develop, learn, have adventures and new experiences; and as they do, their notions of masculinity and femininity change too? (Tavris, 332). Advances in technology changes the rules of gender to accommodate the times. Tavris challenges the old premises that exist to separate the notions of masculinity and femininity; however, these thoughts continue to develop our sense of gender. Without the social movements and advances in technology, those ideas undermine the success of women. Clearly, the movements of the 60?s and 70?s have produced results in how women work, play and maintain family. In Chapter One of Kramer?s, The Sociology of Gender, social change and developments in technology influence gender and impact on the concept of gender.

Throughout the semester, we have discussed the roles of gender in our interpretation of life. As stated in the responses to question one of this exam, Kanter challenges women in the workplace. Social movements can improve corporations and expand their charge to meet the demands of the global market. Women are at the forefront of this charge. Also, we have viewed movies that highlight movement and change and have discussed the role of gender in many different venues. However, I maintain that Balka needs to create a movement in order to expound on how the millennium will address the challenges of gender. Technology has enabled the world #

to transfer information in a matter of minutes. Women in living in different conditions and situations are able to exchange information on how change can occur. Ironically, while discussing how e-mail has emerged to take us even further away from face to face relationships, Balka offers web sites that are currently engaged in a discussion about technology and its impact on women. So, what is the doomsday prediction for how technology will impact gender as we move into the millennium? My prediction, women and minorities will finally assert their rights and affirm their place in society. Movements will be regulated to on-line polls and e-mail chain letters. We are moving to improve society. Advances in technology will give us the edge necessary to compete.

Politically, protesting has become so politically correct and regulated, that demonstrations are more media hype than true to the issues. So, Balka and future researchers should focus on how technology will continue progress. Though predictions on success and failure tend to occur after the fact, we cannot overlook the importance of continuing progress. Redefining gender and sex roles will continue as the structures of families continue to change and more sex groups find a voice and place in society. We?ve come a long way because of ?Rosie the Riveter? and the women of ?Paving the Way,? this progress should not stop, but continue for the sake of our daughters.


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