Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Woman of a Certain Age

Earlier today I was lusting over the shoes de jour at the blog of Isis when this ad showed up alongside her words of wisdom:MU Ad

So we have a woman with gray hair writing on the chalkboard (how old school!) touting online educational opportunities (how… inexplicable).

And then you look to see which programs are being highlighted: Education, Nursing, Health Management, General Studies, and Financial Planning. How… traditional!

Now I grew up in Missouri and got my degrees (BA & MD) from one of the MU campuses (Kansas City). I suspect “women of a certain age” are a growth industry for universities, especially for online education. I suspect these may be popular programs amenable to online learning as well, but I can’t help noticing that they are very traditional pink collar fields.

The whole thing just made me feel, well, weird. I would have shown the potential student at a kitchen table, NOT in an obvious classroom situation. That is sort of the whole point of online education… it’s NOT in the classroom. The tiger tracks are cool, but surely the student could have been standing by a desk at home, perhaps in house slippers.

I also would have liked to see the “mature woman” looking a little nicer. The sweatshirt and jeans with runners is so “Early-bird special at Country Kitchen.” Surely a woman improving her mind and working toward an advanced degree would look a little more put together. Jeans, ballet flats, and a nice fitted jacket?

As a 48-year-old woman whose nest will be empty in a couple of years, I am near the age group this ad targets. I would think one that projects the desired image of an older, professional woman would be more successful.

But what do I know: I’m a doctor, not an advertising guru.

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