A meeting with Maureen Sherry took place at Harvard Association for Law and Business. Maureen Sherry is a famous writer, a former successful business lady, and a mother of four. During the conversation, she answered questions about her career, the role of women on Wall Street and in business, and disclosed some aspects of collaboration with Warner Brothers on the upcoming movie starring Reese Witherspoon. Maureen Sherry has spent over a decade having a prestigious position. She left the job in the position of Managing Director of Bear Stearns, being at that time the youngest person who held it. After leaving Wall Street, she graduated from Columbia University earning a degree of Master of Fine Arts, and has started a writing career.
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Her novel “Opening Belle” is about a young successful wall-street business lady, who is a happily married mother of three children. Her husband has to stay at home with the children, and she faces sexual harassment at work (Patrick). At the time of despair, she found support in her other female colleagues, and they have started taking action on changing the work environment for the better. The novel addresses a significant number of social problems, such as sexual harassment, zero compensation to fathers who stay at home with their children, and prejudices concerning gender roles in society. This book was not autobiographical, although Sherry explained that some storylines resemble her own Wall Street experiences.
The response of the audience
The audience seemed to be very active and genuinely interested – the guest was interviewed by a student, and those present in the room were asking many questions and sharing their own experiences. Answering the question of why she chose to work at Wall Street, Sherry explained that it was simple math, as she needed to pay a student loan after she had graduated. She described her own experience of work at Wall Street, and how women, who were not numerous, have once decided to support each other, organizing special meetings with the manager where they could discuss their problems. At the same time, the manager was encouraged to communicate with the women.
As a result, it improved the working environment for the whole company. While dealing with this issue, Sherry realized that no woman wanted to be the first one to address the unpleasant issues and to organize a structure supporting and empowering females. In particular, many female workers faced inequalities at their job and were about to leave their positions, despite the fact that they were very lucrative.
The Shift of the Social Paradigm
I believe that this life experience has transformed into the main storyline of the bestseller “Opening Belle”. Since the author has four children, she also focused on the cynical behavior of employers, who declare that young mothers do not need any assistance, since being pregnant was their own choice. Sherry highlighted the problems of women, who are afraid to even disclose that they are married. At the same time, she mentioned that she finished her Wall Street career because she wanted to be more flexible and dedicate more time to her big family.
In the end, Sherry highlighted that the policies of Wall Street are changing and that there is slight progress in solving gender injustice issues. Even though a great number of women are still afraid to reveal the facts of sexual harassment, the guest said that she promotes transparency, mentioning that she will encourage her daughters to pursue a Wall Street career.
The dialogue with the guest was very empowering, as she was not only highlighting the problems existing in our society but also providing real tools, ideas, and techniques on how to solve these issues. Sherry encourages women to support each other; her books and real-life experience demonstrate that the change in society is possible, and it starts with the voice of a single woman. I believe that her books and the upcoming movie can unite American women in their fight for gender equality.
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Patrick, Bethanne. “Opening Belle’ review: A Witty Woman Leans in on Wall Street”, Washington Post. 2016. Web.