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Desk Set, The Apartment, and Network

Desk SetThe Apartment, and Network

It was interesting to learn more about the roles of women in business shown in the films Desk Set, The Apartment, and Network. I had to look at the roles, which the women characters played, also paying attention to the type of job and position they had in the businesses. Then I had to check the similarities and differences of these roles and then compile them into one picture. Comparing and contrasting the women’s characters and looking at how they have endured the patriarchal culture of the American business in the twentieth century evoked feelings of compassion and indignation in me. At the same time, I felt joy that the situation has changed nowadays. The main challenge experienced when developing the essay was to compile the similarities and differences of the female characters as they played different roles, which were a bit hard to interpret.
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The Role of Women in Business

Women’s role in business used to be seen as inferior and of no value, thus most women held lower positions as opposed to their male counterparts in the same structures. It was believed that women cannot be good at decision making hence unable to take executive positions. This was reflected by women protagonists in such movies as Desk Set, The Apartment, and Network.

In the film Desk Set, the subservient role to men is openly depicted. It is seen when the Federal Broadcasting Networks decides to buy an Electromagnetic Memory and Research Arithmetical Calculator (EMRAC), which is brought to the library reference department where the women of the company work, without even consulting them (Perry). The department, which is led by Bunny Watson, thinks the computers are a threat to their job as they fear they are going to be replaced but we don’t see them questioning the management about the innovation as they see that their concerns might not be heard.

In the film The Apartment, the females’ subservient role is also shown in their workplace. Women in the film are seen to be less important. It is shown through personnel director Jeff D. Sheldrake having affairs with his female employees, for example, Miss Olen and Fran Kubelik, and using them for extramarital gains. Miss Olen confesses to Fran during the company’s Christmas party that she also had an affair with Sheldrake and she isn’t the only female employee he had fooled that he would marry her (Ebert). Moreover, other women, mostly female employees, were used for extramarital liaisons with the company managers using Bud Baxter’s apartment for this pleasure. We see Sheldrake firing Miss Olen for telling Fran about his womanizing behavior which shows that women aren’t seen as an important part of the business as they can be fixed easily and without an objection. Furthermore, not only the women employees were humiliated by the behavior of the males but the latters’ wives and families as well.

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In the film Network, women are also shown inferior to the men who they work with. For instance, Diana Christensen who heads the network’s programming department is subservient to Max Schumacher, the president of Union Broadcasting Systems (Itzkoff). This is shown when Christensen offers Schumacher help to develop a show in the company but Schumacher does not accept the offer without even thinking. He is more interested in having an affair with Christensen. This shows how top officials and managers in companies did not regard women’s opinions and ideas as important as men’s and they only wanted to have affairs and exploit them.

Another role of the women in business, according to the films Desk Set, The Apartment and Network, was to fill in the least important jobs in the company while men were to take managerial and administrative positions. In Desk Set, we see that they have women employees in the Federal Broadcasting Network but all of the women are placed in one less important department, which is the library referencing. The movie further shows how women were seen to fit only less competitive jobs when Mike Cutler, who came after Bunny Watson, is given the position of network executive while some of the women who have worked long in the company like Watson are not acknowledged at all (Perry). It is painted clearly that women are valuing even less competitive jobs when Ruthie wants to stay for overtime as she is trying to keep her position because finding a new one is a struggle.

In The Apartment, most of the women work in the lowest position in the insurance corporation. For instance, Fran Kubelik works as an elevator operator. Her job is not paid very well which is why Fran is having an affair with the personnel director Jeff D. Sheldrake with the hope that he would divorce his wife and marry her so that she could escape the kind of life she is living (Ebert). Another woman working in the corporation is Miss Olen who works as a secretary to Sheldrake. Her work is seen as of no importance as she is fired immediately by her boss after he hears she has been telling Fran his womanizing habits.

In Network, we see that women, even though heading departments, are not supposed to make decisions concerning their subordinates without consulting men. This aspect diminishes their job as they have to rely on others for their operations. For instance, Diana Christensen, who is head of the networking programming department, requires the approval of Schumacher to develop new shows, which Schumacher does not approve (Itzkoff).

Despite being underestimated, most of the women in the films Desk Set, The Apartment, and Network are very concerned with their jobs and wouldn’t like to lose them. For instance, in Desk Set Ruthie wants to stay overtime. This shows her devotion. In The Apartment film, we see Miss Olen furious for being fired by Sheldrake. She reacts and tells Sheldrake’s wife of his affair with Fran Kubeki which results in Sheldrake being thrown out of the house.

Women in the business environment were seen as potential wives to their bosses and managers. For example, in Desk Set, the network executive Mike Cutler proposes to Bunny Watson after he gets a promotion. Computer engineer Richard Sumner proposes to Watson and he accepts as she accepts how she is and is not there to separate her from her job and her colleagues.

In The Apartment, women in the workplace are too seen as potential wives to their bosses. For instance, Sheldrake promised every female employee he had an affair with that he would marry her. In the end, Sheldrake is thrown out of the house by his wife after she hears that he wants to marry Fran Kubelik and Miss Olen (Ebert).

In Network, we see a similar picture. Schumacher has an affair with Diana Christensen and plans to marry her after leaving his wife which does not go successfully. Still, women had control over their decisions in their lives and they were able to show some power over their male counterparts. For example, in Desk Set, it is shown that Bunny Watson has control over the men who want her hand, Mike Cutler and Richard Sumner (Perry). Bunny Watson is very passionate about the idea that one who is going to marry her should support her in their job and respect her opinions.

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In The Apartment, Fran Kubeki demonstrates power over Baxter and Sheldrake as she chooses whose proposal to consider. This is shown when she refuses to marry her boss Sheldrake who had a habit of womanizing his employees.

In Network, Diana Christensen shows her willingness to make decisions when she pushes so hard to develop a new show in Union Broadcasting Systems even if her boss Schumacher doesn’t accept it, which is in turn welcomed by Frank Hackett. Also, her power and determination are seen when she refuses to marry Schumacher. This shows she was intelligent and rational in her decision-making.

Bunny Watson and Diana Christensen are the women who have used their authority and abilities to the full. For example, Bunny Watson is a leader who is a friend to old women colleagues and a role model to the young ones by the way she manages the library referencing department. Watson’s authority is seen by how she runs the department operations and her colleagues respect her. Diana Christensen’s authority is seen as she refuses to marry Schumacher even though he is her boss. It is further shown as she pushes for the airing of a new show in the company and also she is very devoted to her job which makes Schumacher want to return to his wife.

Women in the twentieth century were seen to be inferior to their male counterparts even though they worked in the same businesses. Females were mainly associated with the limited types of jobs, most of the lowest ranks such as secretaries, librarians, elevator operators, and so on. Most of the female workers were used for extramarital liaisons as seen in the film The Apartment where the bosses and managers used their female employees to exploit them sexually. Additionally, women were subjected to follow the rules and protocols imposed on them and they had no voice in running the business as seen in the film Desk Set where the company bought computers that would help in the library referencing department without consulting the department head Bunny Watson. Nevertheless, women have prevailed and endured this patriarchal culture where they were seen as inferior individuals being rather potential wives for their bosses than effective workers.

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