What do you do when the boss is a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot? You could quit in desperation. You could stay put, despite being miserable, bitter and seething. Or, you could craft a plan to make life better for yourself and your colleagues.

We can’t talk about Gutsy Broads in Film without including the superb 1980 comedy 9 to 5, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and the incomparable Dolly Parton. First, a quick look at our heroines:

Judy Bernly

fondaRecently single after her husband starts boinking his secretary, Judy joins the workforce for the first time in her life as an office worker at Consolidated Companies. She is polite, doe-eyed and trusting, but her gentleness belies her strength. By the end of the movie, we see the full extent of her resilience.





Doralee Rhodes


Doralee is blonde. She is buxom. She is generous of spirit. And she is armed. She’s the boss’s secretary, and unbeknownst to her the whole office thinks she’s having an affair with him (she isn’t). Doralee is a kind and forgiving soul, but if you push her too far, God help you.




Violet Newstead


Violet, a widowed mother of four, has worked at Consolidated for 12 years, and though she’s smart and capable, her sex has impeded any real professional advancement. She’s protective of her female colleagues, and she’s got an active imagination that can get her into trouble.


Comedy Or Documentary?

Unequal pay, sexual harassment, double standards, men taking credit for a female colleague’s ideas — this movie covers the spectrum of discrimination so many women have faced at work. And while it crackles with funny-because-it’s-true moments, it also stings with dismal-because-it’s-still-true moments.

The scene below contains so many ugly truths about how women were — and unfortunately often still are — treated in the workplace. Here, Violet just learns she’s yet again been passed up for a promotion. Instead of rewarding her years of hard work, a man she trained gets the gig, and her boss’s excuses are infuriating.

Even in 2015, I’d wager these tidbits sound familiar to many women:

  • “Don’t go flying off the handle”
  • “He does have a family to support”
  • “The company needs a man in this position”
  • “Clients would rather deal with men when it comes to figures”

Even though this is a comedy, Violet’s response rings true:

“I lose a promotion because of some idiot prejudice. The boys in the club are threatened, and you’re so intimidated by any woman that won’t sit at the back of the bus.” Yep, Violet. That pretty much sums it up.

Unflinching, Undeterred

But you know what? Gutsy Broads don’t waste too much time kvetching about how unfair life is. Instead, they do everything in their power to improve their lot. Dolly says it best in the movie’s theme song:

They let you dream just to watch ’em shatter
You’re just a step on the boss man’s ladder
But you got dreams he’ll never take away

So, what specifically makes this a Gutsy Broads film? It reinforces the following Gutsy Broads tenets:

Gutsy Broads are self-sufficient

Despite having never held a job, Judy marches herself to work like a champ and quickly learns the ropes. Doralee is handy with a crowbar (and a ball of twine). Violet doesn’t have a man around to help her with chores — and she doesn’t need one. Gutsy Broads can fix their own damned garage doors.


Gutsy Broads stand up for themselves

Some women quietly withstand slights and abuse. Gutsy Broads demand respect.

Gutsy Broads know the value of recreation

It’s healthy to blow off some steam every once in a while.


Gutsy Broads don’t panic

It might be easy to become flustered were you to, say, think you’ve killed your boss, stolen what you thought was his body only to discover you were wrong and then get pulled over by the police. Not Gutsy Broads. They keep their cool.


Gutsy Broads help one another

While their boss is away, our brave trio improve their workplace by reversing a rule prohibiting personal items in the office. But they don’t stop there. They seize the opportunity for a total overhaul by instating on-site daycare, flexible hours, job sharing and other employee programs, including one that helped Margaret Foster get sober.

Do you have a favorite moment in this movie? Let us know in the comments!

More Gutsy Broads in Film

Maria From ‘The Sound of Music’: A Rebellious Gutsy Broad

Alien: Ripley Destroys Gender Stereotypes, Stands Up To Mansplaining Android

2 Responses

  1. BJ

    “But why? Why”
    “Why do you think?” (ratchets chair back)
    “Because I’m a sexist egotistical lying hypocritical bigot?”
    “Bingo.” (pulls lever and bastard boss flies out the window to his painful death)