The male-dominated show, Suits, has become a recent obsession of mine. It was recommended to me by a friend and is now a craze amongst my classmates. I just finished season 5 and am dying to continue but I must stop myself from binge watching.
It’s a legal show revolving around senior partner Harvey Specter and his associate Mike Ross. Harvey is your typical testosterone filled arrogant guy in a suit and Mike (who has a questionable past) strives to be just like him and fit into his world. They make enemies and gain allies in a cut-throat competitive world. I love watching the problems they encounter, the arguments they have, and the innovative solutions they reach. However at times the intensity and egos can get a little too much to handle.
While there is no female lead, there are important women in the show. Harvey’s secretary Donna is a strong and observant lady who has an impeccable radar when it comes to almost any matter. Her problem solving skills have you wondering why she isn’t the one calling the shots. Rachel, the paralegal, is kind and caring but a bit too ‘perfect’. She is intelligent yet easily overwhelmed. While these two are extremely capable, they don’t exude power like my favourite female lead, the managing partner of the firm; Jessica Pearson. Even though she is fictitious, who she is and what she represents is inspiring.
She is a strong, independent, reasonable and incredibly competent woman who does what it takes to command respect from the people who work for her and everyone else. Jessica is confident but not abrasive, impartial without being uncaring, passionate about her work, yet cool and unruffled during crisis situations. She considers the firm to be her family and protects it with a motherly love. Constant references are made about how she had to claw her way to the top and the lack of women in a position of power as high as hers. We don’t see any other female managing partners in the show and the men who work for her are constantly trying to surpass her.
Even in the real world only 5.4% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women. There are only 15 female world leaders currently in office, eight of whom are their country’s first woman in power. I recently watched a TED talk by Sheryl Sandberg (The COO of Facebook) where she explains why this is and how it could be fixed. I agree with her on the fact that it will be difficult to attain full equality for the current generation but we need to improve things for ours.
She says that a shift in mindset is required ( not just for the men but women as well). “Sit at the table..Don’t leave before you leave.” are her two firm beliefs. According to Sandberg, due to the very real fear of being perceived as bossy or aggressive women often take a backseat and don’t volunteer themselves as openly as men do. Women tend to underestimate their capabilities and instead credit their successes to other factors in their lives.
As Jessica says “You’re not calling the shots here, I am.” She is in complete control of her life and her firm and makes sure that everyone knows it. On numerous occasions she has overcome adversity with sophistication and resilience. Just being intelligent and competent is not enough. We have to suit up, exude confidence, and command respect with our very presence. We can do that without being like a man. Women can be compassionate, elegant, feminine, wear 6 inch heels and be successful. If we cannot accept that we deserve to be where we are, how can we expect anyone else to?