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Women’s Book Club Discusses Bossypants by Tina Fey

On August 18, 2016, The Women’s Group at Lubin Olson & Niewiadomski LLP held its second meeting of Read. Meet. Connect, where Tina Fey’s memoir Bossypants was discussed. As a contrast to the previous book discussed by the group, Unfinished Business by Anne Marie-Slaughter (which consisted of a serious exploration of the seemingly impossible task for women to “have it all,”) Bossypants was intended to provide a slightly more light-hearted and comedic perspective for the summer months. 

From her days as the first female head writer at Saturday Night Live, to writing Mean Girls, to creating 30 Rock, Fey has proven herself as one of the most prominent female comedians of our time. The winner of eight Emmy’s and two Golden Globes, she is unquestionably a respected and accomplished woman, whose career path and personal story is well worth examining.

Bossypants is a humorous account of Fey’s rise to fame, beginning with childhood struggles regarding fitting in, journeying through adolescence and honing her interest in theater, to carving her way through the male-dominated fields of writing and producing, highlighting her journey to becoming a leader and primary decision maker. The title of Fey’s autobiography is a nod to the book’s predominant theme – that despite Fey’s power in the entertainment field, she still experiences feelings of awe – that she really is the boss.

The women of Read. Meet. Connect discussed “the myth of not enough” – a theme depicted in Bossypants wherein women are made to believe that their roles are in short supply, and that they are only in competition with each other. As Fey points out in her memoir, when it came to auditioning for female roles,  “We were making the show up ourselves. How could there not be enough [female] parts?” Our group discussed how this concept is even analogous to business organizations and partnerships, where to a certain extent those are “made up” as well, and there are no bright-line rules limiting the number of women able to meaningfully participate in leadership roles within such organizations.

We had a fascinating discussion of Fey’s “rule of improvisation”: Make statements (instead of speaking in apologetic questions). We discussed the importance of reminding ourselves to speak assertively in email, and to not succumb to social pressure to discredit our contributions and successes through speaking passively. We examined the hilarious quote from Bossypants “No one wants to go to a doctor who says, ‘I am going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?’ Make statements, with your actions and your voice.”

 In addition to examining the various feminist issues Bossypants relayed, the women of Read. Meet. Connect brainstormed ways for women to support each other and to help one another with our respective career goals. We also discussed ways in which women in both management and non-management roles can effectuate change for women in the workplace. It was a lively and inspired meeting, and we are eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to connect.

For more information please visit Read. Meet. Connect’s website at readmeetconnect.com