We have woman CEOs now. We’ve been told to Lean In. The glass ceiling has supposedly been shattered into a million pieces. Unfortunately, the highly publicised examples of female mobility in the workplace might just be for show. For the women in the trenches on a daily basis, things haven't necessarily changed. It’s still a boys club in many workplaces across the country, and New Girl took on this exact problem on Tuesday night’s episode. It wasn’t a plot line you might have expected to see on a low-stakes sitcom about a group of friends where the B-plot involved the guys “doing” Three Men and a Little Lady (despite Nick and Schmidt’s protests that “you can’t do a movie”), but New Girl took it on with a surprising amount of gravity.
Last week, Jess (Zooey Deschanel) took a job at her ex-boyfriend Russell’s (Dermot Mulroney) education non-profit. She was out of work due to some unexplained state investigation into the school where she was a principal. In New Girl world, this equates to a joke, not something she’s actually worried about. Okay! This week, we see what Jess has been doing at Russell’s office — busy work like alphabetising files and putting out cones when he needs to park in a certain spot for meetings. She absolutely hates it. What irks her the most, though, is a meeting he holds every Tuesday at lunch for a group of his buddies.
That meeting sounds very familiar to Cece (Hannah Simone), which she tells Jess when the two meet for an “adult lunch” that consists of many glasses of white wine and cups of coffee. “Every woman has a ‘Tuesday meeting’ they haven’t been invited to. How many times in your life have you been excluded from something important or talked over or ignored because you’re the only woman in the room?,” Cece asks Jess. She then tells Jess about how she was forced to breast pump during a meeting at a table full of her male coworkers because they refused to change the time, and it was when she needed to pump.
Jess thinks about it and realises that she has been to many a “Tuesday meeting.” At her first administrative job, she was repeatedly talked over by many men, who would repeat her ideas as if she hadn’t said them, taking credit for them while she was in the room. Cece and Jess are fed up with not being invited to the Tuesday meeting, or ignored when they are. They decide to storm into Russell’s Tuesday meeting which, what do you know, is happening right at that very moment.
Unfortunately, this is a sitcom, so the ambush doesn’t go quite as planned. Russell’s Tuesday meeting isn’t a business meeting; it’s a support group for divorced dads. Jess and Cece feel pretty out of place there. Still, Jess is able to use it as a springboard to confront Russell about the changes he needs to make if he doesn’t want her to quit. She needs to be allowed to do actual work, not just busy work. She needs to be involved in meetings where decisions are being made. And it would be nice to have tampons in the bathrooms.
Russell concedes to everything, because Jess is a valuable employee he doesn’t want to lose. In just 22 minutes, New Girl took a stand against “Tuesday meetings” and the all too commonplace workplace discrimination that happens in offices all over the world, every day. It was exaggerated and over the top because it’s a sitcom, but it demonstrated how far women might be forced to go to get the recognition they need at work or to get a seat at the table.
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