What holds women back: Glass ceiling, or flip-flops?

It depends on whom you ask.

Published June 30, 2006 10:07PM (EDT)

In a transparent and terrible attempt to cobble together a hot-weather story, Reuters on Thursday asked the immortal question, "Are flip-flops damaging your career?" The piece is based on advice from "style gurus," and contends that casual footwear only endangers women's careers, despite the fact that the various gurus and disapproving employers quoted are mostly gender-neutral in their condemnation of the dreaded thong sandals. Feministing aptly skewers Reuters' blame-the-ladies slant, keening "Fuck the glass ceiling, flip-flops are ruining us all!!!"

So, Reuters is fired. But when it comes to discounting the glass ceiling, the wire service has company. We recently received a promotional copy of Shattered, a new women's business magazine that refers to the barrier in the past tense because, in the words of its editor in chief, "We are not saying the glass ceiling doesn't exist; we just don't want to dwell on it." The mag focuses instead on women's successes and opportunities, with extremely numerous profiles of multitasking businesswomen and sidebars on gender-parity progress in Europe, the CIA and YWCA. You go, girl!

Trouble is, all the cheerleading leaves Shattered looking too much like a college alumni magazine. It's inspiring to read about other women's successes, but exhortations like "paint the picture and you will make it happen" make me yearn for the sparkling originality of a motivational poster. (Sorry, guest editor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.) Too many of the magazine's features are borrowed from other trade publications or are openly advertorial features from sponsors like Barclay's. Even the original articles fall flat, victims of lines like "The buzz for rosi started about three summers ago, but no one quite knows why." If Shattered wants to convince me to forget the glass ceiling, they'll have to polish their prose.

In the meantime, I'm foregoing flip-flop naysayers and business boosters alike, and will spend the holiday weekend immersed in news sources I can trust.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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