from "DDB NEWS" AUGUST, 1969
"I've got it made, right?
I've got the great job and the great personal life.
"I'll tell you something. It's hard.
It requires a kind of flexibility and discipline I can't begin to describe.
But I wouldn't have it any other way."
So said Phyllis Robinson, in a talk to Adelphi University marketing students, on the subject of whether being a copywriter and a wife and mother are compatible.
Some of the girls in the school were considering going into the agency business, but they had doubts about whether that was the life for them.
Phyllis was asked to speak to help them resolve those doubts.
One thing her speech must have done is discourage any lazy ones.
Some of her points:
"In our culture, the care of the home and the day-to-day rearing of children has been a woman's job.
And no matter how free she is, how talented she is, how successful she is, no matter how much help she can buy-in servants, nursemaids, cleaning services, labor-saving devices-the responsibility is still hers.
She must see to it that there's food on the table-and more in the freezer.
Planning, marketing, cooking, cleaning, laundry are all in her domain.
"The working woman?
She's the one who rushes home after a tough day at the office, carrying the flowers and the wine and the pate, only to find when she races to beat her dinner guests to the front door that the once-a-week cleaning woman hasn't shown up.
"She's the one who either has to stay home or leave the schedule of penicillin-cough medicine-temperature taking-aspirinand rush off to work, trying to clear her mind of the look on her sick child's face so she can concentrate on her work.
She's the one who, in addition to keeping herself attractively coiffed and clothed, has to shop for drapery fabrics and shoelaces and snowpants-and maybe some shirts for her husband and a training leash for the puppy-on her lunch hour. (No wonder so many working women have great figures-they don't have anytime te eat lunch!)
"She's the one in charge of chauffeuring the kids, making sure they get their hair washed and learn to share and don't pick their noses and don't hit each other on the head too much.
And if she isn't there to do it, she has the responsibility for finding the person or persons she can trust to do it.
"Even if she's successful enough to hire a houseful of servants, she's the one charged with screening them, hiring them, training them-and more often than not, with the domestic help situation the way it is today, going through it all over again a year later.
Everything takes time-even phoning Casserole Kitchen.
And it's a fight to keep the distractions-big ones and petty ones-from moving in on your work.
"Don't get me wrong.
I'm not bitching.
I love those responsibilities.
I'm just saying it takes tremendous stamina, organization, flexibility, and imagination to be able to manage it. (I'm not bitching, I'm bragging!)
"The point is that we are insisting on (or as in my case, actually enjoying) equal opportunities and equal rewards and recognition, but the culture hasn't caught up.
I'm not sure how or even whether it will.
Are you going to ask your husband to darn his own socks and call the laundry to complain about the starch in his shirts? Are we ever going to have a labor-saving device that will diaper a baby in the middle of the night, or arrange flowers, or have a conference with the second grade teacher?
"Clearly, both the women and the institutions are going to have to make some changes."
Phyllis noted that "new life styles are being explored, some quite radical.
Now I personally dig one marriage, one family per house.
Children after marriage.
But let's face it, the old system hasn't worked so well and some adjustments in the old patterns have to be made .... I don't know the answer, but I suspect it's not necessarily the same answer for everyone."
Even her own life style didn't follow the traditional pattern, she told the group.
She didn't have a child until after she'd hult her career.
The commercial film for Polaroid "ZOO". Phyllis's daughter and husband performed in it.
"Same of my college classmates are now going around saying"
"I was a Phi Bete. Then I was a mother for l8 years. Now give me a highly paid. fascinating job, and not really believing anyone will. And why should they"
Phyllis suggested that "Women have to be more flexible and imaginative, and make things happen.
Create jobs for themselve.
Develop your talent, bring it to the market-place, and sell it on terms that will be satisfactory to you. Go be a pioneer! I was.
Want to marry young and have a bunch of kids right away?
OK-but if you're: interested in a career too, first, try to get a toehotel in the business, make a mark, even a small one, and then keep that toe in-with a job one day a week, even-maybe doing the advertising, for your local dress shop, or your local mortuary-anything.
"If you want things your way. you've got to have plenty of give.
If you can make a profit from this part-time work, great.
But even if you have to blow your- salary on sitters, new clothes, and the hairdresser do it.
Money is onty one of the satisfactions of any job.
Even if you had to take a loss, perhaps you and your husband could manage it, realizing that in the long haul it would mean better income for the family.
"But industry must make adjustments too. become more flexible in its hiring.
Look at retail stores-they couldn't have stayed alive if they hadn't worked out part-time jabs for saies people.
It can work in more highly skilled areas too-if everyone wants it to happen.
And everybody does.
Industry is crying 'Help! We're starved for talent.' Women are crying. 'Help, I'm unfutfilled.'
It just makes sense that they've got to get together somehow."
"To woman copywriter all over the world"
"Advertising Age" July 15,1968
interviewer: John Revett
Mrs. Phyllis Robinson was named to the New York Advertising Writer's Hall of Fame on May 29 1968.