A lot has been written about the passing of Mary Tyler Moore. Perhaps we did not know at the time how ground breaking the Mary Tyler Moore show was. In retrospect, it is clear to us.
There are so many episodes that dealt with gender equality, including when Mary was paid less because she was a woman and denied opportunities because she was not a man. With a wonderful combination of strength and humor, she leaned in….and prevailed.
But there was something else about Mary Richards that is getting less attention: the fact that she was single. No, it was not because of a death or divorce but rather a choice.
I have spoken with many single women about workplace issues. A blog on this issue was slated for later this year but the timing unfortunately feels right now.
Single woman have shared with me:
1. They have been asked why they never married. Are married women (or men) asked why they choose to marry? The often unspoken assumption: it was a result, not a choice.
2. They sometimes feel excluded from discussion on managing work and life. While many single people have children, many others don’t. Our respect for life outside of work cannot be restricted to those of either gender who are married with children.
3. They at times feel marginalized when invitations to employer events include spouses, partners or significant others. I know some men who feel the same way. Why not just “adult guest?”
Yes, some state laws prohibit discrimination based on marital status. And, I don’t believe many women (or men) are denied jobs or opportunities because of their single status.
In fact, sometimes they may be given extra work, particularly if they don’t have children. The conscious thought process or implicit assumption: they don’t need to go home.
The dialogue about intimate relations has become refreshingly more inclusive. Yet, we sometimes fails to recognize those who are not in them.
Do single men face the same issues? I am not sure.
I think single men are often seen as having made that choice. Well, this is a choice more and more women are making, too.
So when we remember Mary Richards, we can remember her “spunk.” Lou Grant, I love spunk!
And, we should remember what a pioneer she was for women generally. But I suspect she holds a special place for single women everywhere.
In our workplaces, let’s continue to challenge ourselves to be more inclusive. It’s the least we owe Mary!
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