On September 9th, I began my internship with Arizona List. At noon, I sat in an informal meeting with the other interns at Tucson’s Expresso Art Café where our responsibilities and commitments were explained. Immediately, I was thrilled to start. I so admire that Arizona List exists to empower women in politics and advance political efforts to create greater equality between men and women. That night, Arizona List was sponsoring a screening of the 1980 movie “9 to 5” at The Loft Cinema. During the meeting, the interns were invited to attend the film and assist with set up, signing in guests, and passing out donation envelopes. I jumped on the opportunity to begin!
The film event attracted powerful people from across the state. Past and present Arizona List candidates were in attendance including Paula Aboud, Stefanie Mach, Sally Ann Gonzales, Jo Holt and Victoria Steele. Representatives from organizations including Arizona Women’s Political Caucus and Planned Parenthood showed up in support as well. Also, we appreciated that our valued donors came to share a laugh with us. It was a total honor to be in the presence of such wonderful people. The event was definitely a success.
To summarize “9 to 5”, coworkers played by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Dolly Parton become unlikely friends through a shared hatred for their boss. They refer to their boss as a “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” because he creates a hostile work environment through relentless sexual harassment and constantly addressing his female employees in a patronizing way, seriously lacking respect for their contributions. Through a series of zany misunderstandings, the tables are turned and the women gain control over their boss and the office. When they are in charge, they are able to enact significant improvements to their work environment. Without giving away too much to those who have never seen the film, the women eventually get the respect they deserve.
After the film, Laura Hogan, Arizona List’s Executive Director, invited audience members to reflect on the movie and how in exaggerated ways, it mirrored current workplace conditions for women. Right now in Arizona, white women earn about 87 cents per dollar that a white man earns (which is actually the smallest gendered pay gap in the US, excluding the District of Columbia). Women of color earn less than that. While Arizona women are more closely aligned with their male coworkers in terms of wages, we object to any such gap. Female employees are entitled to be paid the same amount as the men in their position. Hogan also pointed out that sexual harassment remains a serious problem in many places and that women continue struggling to be promoted to leadership positions. However, Hogan mostly focused on how Arizona is failing working mothers. According to the June report from the National Partnership for Women and Families, Arizona is one of 17 states to receive a failing grade for its policies and procedures to support working parents. Most states have expanded beyond the federal parent aid minimum requirements, but not Arizona. Actually, our state has repealed regulations granting 180 days of pregnancy disability leave and many private sector workers are denied FMLA benefits.
Overall, the “9 to 5” film showing was many things – it offered laughs, it brought together all different types of people, and it gave us the opportunity to reflect on our state’s shortcomings in regards to how working women are valued. Plus, I had a truly fantastic first day!
-Mallory Corrus, Arizona List Intern