In which I judge a book by its cover

Guest post by Helen on the Cast Iron Balcony.

Thanks to Tigtog for honouring me with an invitation to guest post at Hoyden while she whizzes down mountains.

Recently, the folks at IBTP have been bemoaning the pinkification of everything (something also deplored by Barbara Ehrenreich, Twisty and Tigtog). Coincidentally, while relaxing with the dead-tree paper, I wandered by accident into the My Career section. Normally I would toss this bulky wad, with its depressing articles about young billionaires who are all twenty years younger than me, over my shoulder. This time, like someone driving slowly past a car crash, I couldn’t avert my eyes from a book review by Wendy Taylor (whose column is titled “Expert Advice”).

The name of the book is: “The Girl’s Guide to being a Boss”. Because, presumably, if you’re a grown woman contemplating a position of authority, you’ll rush out and buy a book which refers to you as a “girl”. As if that isn’t enough, the full title as shown by is “TGGTBAB (Without Being a Bitch): Valuable Lessons, Smart Suggestions, and True Stories for Succeeding as the Chick in Charge”. Because, you know, the greatest danger in taking on a management role is that people will think you’re a bitch? And who could resist a book on professional development with a cover like this? Here’s the version shown in the AGE review:

Image from Allen and Unwin

And here’s the version shown on Amazon:

Image from

Because, you know, if you want to direct a professional development book at women, it’s gotta be pink. (there was a picture of a large, pink, six inch heeled shoe somewhere to the right of the review, for no apparent reason. Chicks. Shoes. Pink. You know.)

Since this isn’t available online, and I have no intention of buying – or reading it, I need to stress that I’m criticising the marketing of the thing. The cover. The artwork. The presumption that if you aren’t an underling, you’re going to be labelled “a bitch”. And being called a “chick” even if you have the corner office. Just in case you get a bit uppity. I won’t second guess what advice they give, as I say I haven’t read the book, but I hope they aren’t using a double standard of male and female managerial behaviour. Well, I can always hope.

What is it about these people who write or do artwork for professional women and their obsession with the Barbie aesthetic and all things pink?

Taylor’s review stresses how easy the book is to read, but the blurb at lays it on with a trowel. “Most management books put you to sleep…No jargon and no need for an MBA. The Girl’s Guide to Being a Boss Without Being a Bitch is a fun read that offers information without intimidation and includes all the advice you need to learn to lead, inspire and motivate. We include quizzes, tips, checklists and fun sidebars such as “Celluloid Bitches,” and “The Girl’s Guide to Gossip” throughout.”

Business is hard!
Chicks haz short attention spanz!
More pink shoes!
Let’s go shopping!

Here is a collection of career development books I found while trying to find the review I’ve mentioned. They don’t seem to feel the need to talk down to their target market, and there is no… bloody… pink. But then, the cover artwork only shows men.

Categories: Culture, gender & feminism, Life

Tags: , , ,

2 replies

  1. *sigh* that’s it, I’m going shopping.
    great post 🙂

  2. On reflection, I hate the second cover worse. The first cover at least looks like it might be meant ironically (although I of course can now be accused of wild optimism).
    The second cover just looks like chick-lit.

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