This blog was featured on 05/28/2019
How to Create the Heroine You Need
Written by
She Writes
May 2019
Written by
She Writes
May 2019

This guest post is by Maren Cooper, author of A Better Next.

I was inspired to write about a female role model in the business world because I needed one. A kick-ass heroine who can play the game with the big boys and win, but who is also a loving mother, a great friend, a giving co-worker. A power player herself, Jess Lawson, my protagonist in A Better Next navigates her own course, without diminishing who she is;  she knows it’s all a game, and when she plays, she plays to win.

I needed to create an everywoman who showed the resilience I yearned to see on the page.  In Jess Lawson, I like to think I wrote about an unlikely heroine who had been swimming with the sharks for so long that she didn’t even bat an eye at the everyday sexism in her world. Not immune really, just inured to its power to inflict injustice.

What do you yearn to see in a heroine? Write about her and you will send a message.

People often ask me what my book is about. I know I should have a snappy reply ready which results in a rush to purchase it within the day. But, I ramble a bit. A Better Next is about a stressed dual-career couple with overlapping careers which leads to a distressed marriage complicated by the sexism and duplicity of corporate politics, calmed somewhat by the balm of female friendships and the mixed blessing of starting over. Hooked?

In the era of the #MeToo movement there is a lot of talk, rightfully so, about sexism writ large.

Women and men are victimized by others who take advantage of their vulnerabilities to prey on them. Threatened with career limitations, or other physical and emotional abuse, the effect by the perpetrators is all too common. The good news is that we are now hearing the stories, and by so hearing them, we are able to shame the perpetrators and not those victimized. Like so many others, my appreciation for the Time’s Up effort is endless. The social change that will come from it is remarkable and long overdue.

But, of course, I started my book long before the Me-Too, and Time’s Up movements were “things” in our world.

I wrote my book as I was inspired by my own experiences in corporate life through a long career. Sexism writ small.

I’m not a dinosaur, but I remember when it was rare for a woman to go to Business school, Medical school, or become lawyers. I remember when most women were advised (if they were lucky enough to be advised to go to college) to head for a career as a teacher, a social worker or a nurse. It’s not that long ago that Title IX was passed (1972) allowing women the opportunity for sports activities in high school, or to allow legal abortions in this country (1973).

Laws change but social norms sometimes follow slowly thereafter. Consider that the US Women’s soccer team is suing to be paid as much as their male counterparts and that there are never-ending challenges to the legality of abortion in this country.  It’s somewhat telling that the Equal Rights Amendment is still not ratified by enough states to seal that deal.

What inspired me to write the book was the subtle sexism that still runs rampant in our world today. We may be graduating terrifically bright and capable women to take their rightful places along equally bright and capable men—but equal treatment in the workplace is still more a goal than a reality.

Human beings do not leave their sexuality at home when they go to work. And, we all learn from our role models how to behave in the world. Until or unless we have role models who disempower bad behavior we will have sexism in the workplace. Simple as that.

And make sure your super heroine is human….

Jess has her blind spots, of course. Nobody’s perfect.


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