What Can Barbie Teach Us About Work?

The film’s explicit message tells women in the workforce that they are enough. All that’s left is to believe it. Our summer intern Nikita Dolan wrote about it here.

The creator of Barbie, Ruth Handler, wanted her daughter to know that she had more choices than the traditional female roles women had until that point in time. Barbie dolls were different from the usual baby dolls that little girls were given; they showed little girls that they had the choice to wear trousers; to be a doctor or a pilot instead of a nurse or a flight attendant, if that is what they aspired to. In Barbieland, the Barbies hold all positions of power, and the Kens are “just Ken,” there to serve the Barbies. Margot Robbie`s Barbie discovers that this isn’t the way the real world is when she’s met with new feelings of self-consciousness and anxiety, these feelings weren’t originally within Barbie, but are brought about by people’s perception of her in reality, showing how a little girl or even a woman can go from confident to unsure of herself after experiencing an emotionally draining or toxic environment. For women, this can often be their workplace.

The Barbie movie urges us to challenge gender norms and stereotypes. It reminds us of the significance of creating inclusive workplaces, where diversity is celebrated, and individuals are not limited by outdated expectations, empowering women to pursue their dreams and contribute to the workforce with their full potential. Women often make maladaptations to fit into an environment that may not align with their personal and professional goals. Employers must foster a culture of inclusion, one that allows women to bring their authentic selves to work without fear of judgement or compromise.

Younger women in the workforce are more inclined to value flexibility and a company’s commitment to employee health than current female leaders, this reflects a shift in work values, where work-life balance and well-being take precedence. Employers must recognise this changing trend and adapt their policies to meet these needs. The intersection of motherhood and the workplace is an area that demands attention. Women should not be penalised for becoming mothers. Instead, we should champion family-friendly policies that enable working mothers to excel both in their professional and personal roles, fostering a more equitable and supportive work environment. Offering flexible work arrangements, promoting employee well-being, and supporting work-life integration can significantly contribute to attracting and retaining female talent.

It is an employer’s responsibility to make these adaptations the new normal and foster a progressive collective mindset within the organisation.

The Gender Pay Gap

There’s a duality to Ryan Gosling`s Ken; he isn`t just comedy relief; he represents what women have struggled with since the recording of history. During his ridiculously over-the-top and very Ken overthrow of Barbieland after discovering patriarchy in the real world (pulled in by the belief that it’s all about horses, trucks and doing what he wants with his hair) he asks Barbie “How does that feel? It doesn’t feel good, does it?!” The film is very well-regarded, but the backlash from some men in the media makes me wonder how they missed such a simple point. Barbieland is reversed, the Kens are fighting for recognition and equality. Why is inequality acceptable in the real world to these men but not acceptable in the fictional Barbieland?

In the film, a suited man in the real world says to Ken that they’re just “hiding patriarchy better, “this brought the most recent gender pay gap statistics to mind; the gender pay gap information act 2021. In December 2022, a momentous event marked a significant step towards transparency and accountability in the pursuit of gender equality. The first mandatory reporting period, mandated by the act, compelled companies with 250 employees or more to disclose their gender pay gap data.

PwC’s Gender Pay Gap Analysis 2023 sampled 500 companies that reported the mandatory gender pay gap details, it presented us with a stark reality – the gender pay gap persists. The report delved into industries, unearthing the industries with the widest and narrowest gender pay gaps. Regrettably, the finance, banking, and legal sectors emerged as leaders in fostering pay disparities, deepening the gender divide. These findings underscore the urgency for collective action to address gender inequality in these industries and dismantle the barriers that perpetuate unequal pay.

Overall, with all industries considered, the mean gender pay gap was 12.6%, and the mean hourly bonus gap was 22.9%, (PWC, 2023). This is a call to action for us to address this disparity, to champion pay equity, and to ensure that every individual’s work is fairly recognized and compensated, regardless of their gender.

My Fitzgerald Power experience

Last year, during a career day at Southeast Technological University, I had a chat with Georgina Carpendale, Fitzgerald Power`s CFO. I`m so thankful that I went to the careers fair that day and walked up to the Fitzgerald Power stand. Georgina, Aoife, and Ryan were so approachable and friendly, I couldn’t wait to go home that evening and do more research. I found that they won best medium practice of the year 2022, and offer a wide range of services, including auditing, outsourcing services, and corporate finance.

I was fortunate to be hired as an intern by Jennifer Power, a partner at Fitzgerald Power`s Food & Beverage and SME department, during my first few weeks with the help of Jennifer, Bríd, Edel, and Edyta in the SME department, I worked on YE account preparation and audit preparation and worked on an M&A project with Ronan FitzGerald in corporate finance.

In the past few weeks, I`ve worked on some interesting group projects with the other interns for Stuart FitzGerald, the company’s CEO, such as corporate fundraising and marketing. I also got to work in the payroll department with Emma O`Keefe, tax senior and payroll manager. Everyone is so knowledgeable, but laid back and friendly, it’s a perfect learning environment. The high level of mentorship available in all areas is excellent.

I was also very impressed with their values, Fitzgerald Power truly believes in promoting the happiness and growth of their employees, and the emphasis they put on this every day in the office makes it an environment where you can enjoy going to work, be comfortable asking questions, and have a good laugh with your colleagues and managers, something I haven’t experienced to this degree in other workplaces. The high number of women in management positions at the firm is also very encouraging for me as a woman starting my career in accountancy.

Everyone is treated equally at Fitzgerald Power – you feel like your voice is heard and that your effort is always genuinely appreciated. One thing you can be sure of is that every employee is treated as if they are “Kenough.”

To all aspiring interns reading this, I encourage you to take the leap and apply for an internship at Fitzgerald Power. Embrace the chance to gain extraordinary first-hand experience, broaden your horizons, and ignite your passion for accountancy. Your future self will thank you for the transformative experience that awaits you at Fitzgerald Power. Get in touch today to apply careers@fitzgeraldpower.ie.