Are We Our Sisters' Keepers? Why are Women Lawyers Not Speaking Up?
Last week at ForbesWoman -- full post here. Excerpt below.
The most competitive and ambitious women in the land are stifling themselves?
Looks like it.
- women law students are less likely than their male classmates to participate in classroom discussions
- women law students are less likely to seek advice from their professors
- women law students are more likely to be motivated by fear (that’s ok, of course, so long as you do what the river guides tell you to do – paddle through your fear!)
Still, we graduate from law school and often do so with high honors or we wouldn’t represent such a large proportion of the new associate ranks in the best firms in the land. All first year associates are frightened. They don’t know a thing, really. Certainly not how to practice law.
It Takes Courage!
It’s a very adult task to speak up for a major American corporation likeFord Motor Company (NYSE:F) in court; to make an objection to the question asked by the deep-voiced man of advanced years sitting across the conference table from you harassing your client in a deposition. It takes courage to tell a jury of twelve strangers that your client was innocent even though five by-standers identified him as the guy who robbed the Circle K (CLKSF:OTCUS).
So we “woman up” when we get that first job and speak up, right?
According to a recent study, apparently not.
We argue only 15% of all cases heard by the Supreme Court. One of those 15% tells Stephanie Rabiner that “women don’t like verbal jousting” and are “horrified” by the controversy it might cause to take a case to the highest court in the land.
There’s Work to Be Done
O.K. You don’t care that much about money. And you’d really rather have a balanced lifestyle, which you’re hoping will allow you to just go to work, put in your hours, come home and tend to the children who, you hope, you’ll be able to comfortably accommodate into your work-life. You ski. You travel to exotic places. You want to buy a home – an acquisition thatChris Buckley says gives you the right to use the Yuppie Nuremberg Defense - I have a mortgage to pay.
That life you’re imagining rests on the shoulders of the women who broke this path for you. But that’s ok. We didn’t want to create a generation of women who were grateful. We wanted to create a generation of women who would stick up for themselves and for their sisters.
As Gloria Steinem once said, “it’s ok if young women don’t remember whoI am. It’s only important that they remember who they are.”
But listen up ladies, women, sisters, fellow barristers and advocates. There’s work to be done in the world. You have the education and the training necessary to make a difference at the highest levels of power. And if you choose not to use that power . . . well . . . at least have the decency to feel just a little bit guilty about it.
Here’s What You Have the Power to Change according to Nicholas Kristof’s Half the Sky.
- more than 107 million women are missing from the globe today
- more girls have been killed in the last fifty years because of their gender than men were killed in all the wars of the 20th century
- more girls are killed in this routine gendercide in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century
- every year another 2 million girls worldwide disappear because of gender discrimination
- of the 600,000 to 800,000 people who are trafficked across international borders every year, 80% are women and girls, who are imprisoned , beaten and raped many times every day of the week to serve the world’s sex trade
- the global sex trade is larger in absolute terms than the entire Atlantic slave trade was in the 18th and 19th centuries
Feel like speaking up in class yet?
How about that bill pending in an American state legislature that wouldmake the murder of a physician providing abortion services to your sisters, your daughters and your mothers justifiable homocide?
You’re a lawyer. Doesn’t that seem wrong to you?
No well-behaved woman ever made history. Nor did she end the international slave trade in little girls.
Ready to misbehave yet?