1960’s mad woman holds it down in autobiography


The ’60s were a glamorous chapter in the history of advertising — torrid love affairs, crisps fedoras and feminine virtue as dainty as white cotton gloves. Women dominated the most profitable areas in the consumer market and were the starlets of grand advertising campaigns. However, it couldn’t be more clear that it was indeed a man’s world.

Jane Maas became an industry legend during a time when most women were confined to kitchen stoves or at best secretary positions. In this sincere and charming autobiography, Maas shares truths about the Mad men era.


Maas has been honored with 47 industry awards, served as creative director at Ogilvy & Mather and Wells Rich Greene and was president of Earle Palmer Brown. She is also mother to the iconic “I Love New York” campaign that revitalized tourism in the city when tourism was at its lowest.

She uses a combination of personal anecdotes and interviews with the industries best—male and female alike—to explain the problems women faced in corporate offices, the struggles of being a working mother and the authenticity of the AMC hit-drama Mad Men.

I never considered myself a literary aficionado — more of an avid skimmer of many books — but Maas whisked away my entire Saturday afternoon with her lighthearted wit and honest descriptions of the life and people in New York City at the time. The book was glued to my hand from the morning her husband brings her coffee in bed on the first page and throughout the final chapter where she reflects on all the madness. Maas credits her loving husband and close friend Mable, her Jamaican housemaid, for helping her survive it.

We often forget that concepts like stay-at-home mom, maternity leave and human resources are recent inventions. Maas talks about wage disparity; coping with sexual harassment for two years; being socially scorned for being a working mother; being excluded from projects like Kotex because it wasn’t “appropriate for a woman”; careers dying due to pregnancy; battling with tight bras and unruly stockings, and everything in between.

Its not the sexism that draws your attention — her honesty is the real puller. It’s the thought that most women endorsed the inequality. They rationalized that men should be paid more and get automatic raises because they had families. Women used ceremonies and social ostracizing to keep other women in their good housewife roles.

If you ever have a free weekend and about $15 to spare, you should buy a copy of this book! It’s guaranteed to entertain as much as it will educate.

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