Professor publishes books about women in workplace

Kelly Schiro

Tracy Lucht, assistant professor of journalism, published two books within the last year.

“2013 was a very busy year. I wrote more pages than I ever could have imagined writing,” Lucht said. 

Her most recent book that she collaborated on, “Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness,” went out on stands Jan. 30.

Lucht and her colleagues were under pressure to finish the book and have it published before the new season of Mad Men.

They first thought of the idea to write the book after participating on a panel at the annual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference in 2011. The panel discussed the show and its historical accuracy and representations of women in the workplace.

Lucht and her colleagues wanted to look closer at the historical accuracy of the show’s portrayal of women in the workplace.

“Mad Men is arguably the best TV out there because it presents women as multidimensional characters in a historically accurate way,” Lucht said.  She and her collaborators wanted to give the readers the analytical tools to understand the depth of the show.

They collaborated on the introduction and conclusion as well as a chapter written by each person. Lucht looked at the way two women characters related to each other.

“One represents a liberal feminists’ view and works her way up through using professional skills while the other works her way up through the way she dresses and using her sexuality,” Lucht said.  

Rather than only presenting portraits of these characters, Lucht wanted to break the characters down for readers to understand how the characters relate to one another.

Raluca Cozma, associate professor of journalism, said she is looking forward to reading Lucht’s newest book. Cozma is a fan of Mad Men and thinks it’s important to explore how accurate the image of women in the workplace is and to look at the stereotypes of women.

Lucht’s first book, “Sylvia Porter: America’s Original Personal Finance Columnist” published last November. It started as her doctoral research in 2004-2007. In 2010, she decided to revisit the project and turn it into a book.

“I thought it needed it to be written, and I took it one step at a time,” Lucht said.  After she started writing, Lucht found she liked the process.

In the beginning, it was hard for Lucht to get used to writing because her instincts as an editor tried to edit as she wrote. After Lucht got used to writing first and editing later, she said, “I found that I really began to enjoy it.”

In both of her books, Lucht focuses on the role of women in the workplace.

“I like telling stories that haven’t been told before, and a lot of those stories are about women because they tend to get overlooked by history,” Lucht said. 

“Tracy Lucht’s biography about Sylvia Porter ranks as one of the best biographies that I have ever read in the journalism genre. She not only chronicles her life but also her ‘brand,’ and how she overcame attitudes about women to advance her career,” said Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

In the future, Lucht hopes to write more books. Her current research focuses on women journalists in the upper-midwest.

In focusing on historical figures Lucht finds that there is a natural narrative. “I like telling stories that might otherwise never get told,” she said.