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Hofstra Labor & Employment Law Journal

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Last year I was invited to an undergraduate revival of the musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," a comedy about the workplace, which I thought, as a teacher of employment law, I would enjoy. Written in the early 1960s and made into a 1967 movie, "How to Succeed" follows the adventures of J. Pierrepont Finch, a window washer who, with the aid of a sarcastic self-help book, schemes his way up the corporate ladder. Although ostensibly a humorous look at the corporate world of the late 1950s and early '60s, I found myself cringing throughout the musical as I viewed the sexual exploits of the exclusively male executive corps among the female secretarial pool. After the lights rose, I analyzed my negative reaction and realized that the musical, far from simply being an evening's entertainment gone awry, offered vital insights into gender stereotyping at work and how both employment law and society have changed - and not changed - during the past forty years.

As "How to Succeed" was written and first performed contemporaneously with the passage of Title VII, the musical also offers an opportunity to examine, from both a law and literature and law and popular culture perspective, how the view of women in the workforce has either progressed or remained stagnant during the past forty years. Although progress has been made toward gender equality, many issues highlighted in the musical are still problems today: sexual harassment; sex segregation of the workforce and pink collar ghettos; and the glass ceiling. This Article discusses these issues seriatim.



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