One of my favorite TV shows right now is “Mad Men.” The show is set in a Madison Avenue ad agency in the early 1960s. In addition to the great writing and acting, the show does a wonderful job of capturing the details of that era.
This article talks about the differences in workplace etiquette from that era to today. As the article says, “It is a different world than we know now — thanks to civil rights and employment laws passed later in the 1960s and in the ’70s — but one that really existed.”
Among the differences, then and now:
- The characters are shown drinking alcohol and smoking at the office. Smoking in public places is illegal in many areas. Drinking may be frowned upon at work and restricted by company rules, but it is not illegal.
- A character is depicted asking a job applicant if she is married. Inquiring about age and marital status in an interview is also illegal.
- Aspects of “Mad Men” depict the friction between men vs. women in the workplace at that time, and underscores the enormous differences for women in the workplace compared to now. The male characters are shown making inappropriate remarks to the “girls.” A central story on “Mad Men” shows a female copywriter contending with the challenges of breaking into the old boys club.