Christmas brings numerous joy-inducing changes to the world: music, hot chocolate, gifts and memories with friends and family. Christmas also seems to bring the infamous Hallmark Christmas movies, whose plots seem to mirror each other often. I won’t lie; sometimes, it is enjoyable to indulge in these guilty pleasure movies. However, one thing I have seen time and time again is the lead female character being a poor representation of women working in the corporate world. The woman often starts in a corporate job in which she is sometimes portrayed as soulless and anti-Christmas before she is exposed to some classic hometown Christmas shenanigans, after which she leaves the job for love and what is likely a life more in line with a stereotypical “woman’s role.”
Hallmark movies are just one place in which working women are portrayed in a negative light. Some women are viewed as irresponsible while working with children rather than as providers. Sometimes their colleagues view women as less capable. Moreover, women in the working world face more difficulties than their male counterparts, and not only in the pay gap. A study done by Forbes found that nearly 64% of women face gender-based microaggressions in the workplace. And yes, the “micro” portion of the word may make the issue seem trite, but repeated and too-prevalent microaggressions can have a large effect on an individual’s self-confidence, ability to feel capable and ability to feel comfortable in their work environment: all things that should be granted to every employee.
So, what is there to do?
Firstly, all individuals should know that women, despite the false claims of some, are just as capable as men in the workplace. Indeed, a recent study done by the Harvard Business Review found that firms led by women were “more profitable, more socially responsible, and provide safer, higher-quality customer experiences.” This finding has been replicated in numerous other studies and displays that underestimating women is not only wrong, but also a costly mistake.
Second, firms and individuals alike must strive to support women who wish to pursue jobs. Inaccessibility to childcare due to rising costs have made it difficult for women to take jobs. And worse, when difficulty in obtaining childcare arrives, the negative impact usually falls on the woman; indeed, mothers are 40% more likely to feel the effect of childcare inaccessibility than fathers. Finding a remedy for this may be difficult, but it could begin with firms allowing more flexibility for individuals with children. It may continue with increased support from both the government and the firms themselves to better provide childcare.
Lastly, we return to the idea of the Hallmark woman. Media is a powerful thing; it is always nice to see a love story and a story of self-discovery, but changing how women at work are portrayed in film may also play a role in changing how women at work in the real world are viewed. Though small, the portrayal of the Hallmark woman displays a much more deep-seated issue that must be addressed.
Many things need to change within the workplace to create an environment where all individuals, regardless of race or gender, can succeed. And yes, Hallmark movies often don’t always support the idea of the working woman. Hopefully there will come a day where all individuals have equal opportunity and support at work. Where all individuals are viewed as capable and responsible. And all those individuals can watch silly Hallmark movies knowing they can go to work the next day and thrive.