Thought For The Day

There is something more – the spirit, or the soul. I think that that quality encourages our courtesy and care and our minds. And mercy, and identity.

Maya Angelou

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Straight Talk with Chris Effesiou

I recently was the guest on the Voice America radio talk show “Straight Up with Chris.”  The host of the show is Chris Effesiou, and Chris and I had an interesting dialogue about work and family and balance.  Chris is well-known for his philosophy that applies business concepts to family responsibilities, and it was a great pleasure exchange ideas with Chris and his listeners.

If you missed it, here are the links to the the show:

You also may enjoy Chris’ book, CDO Chief Daddy Officer:  The Business of Fatherhood.

Happy listening and reading!

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Thought For The Day

Infinitely more important than sharing one’s material wealth is sharing the wealth of ourselves—our time and energy, our passion and commitment, and, above all, our love.

William E. Simon

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Thought For The Day

As man draws nearer to the stars, why should he not also draw nearer to his neighbor?

Lyndon B. Johnson

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The Battle of the Sexes: Recognizing How Far We Have Come

Last week we were reminded of a time, 40 years ago, when a female tennis star, a young Billie Jean King, defeated Bobby Riggs in the tennis match that was promoted as the Battle of the Sexes.  It not only was the first sports victory of its kind for a woman, but it also symbolized the possibilities for women as the Women’s Liberation Movement was gaining momentum in America.  The event led to the founding of the first Women’s Tennis Association by Billie Jean King and pay equity for women and men tennis competition winners.

Many of you were not around in those days and, if you were, you do not remember the King-Riggs face-off.   Although 55 years old at the time, Riggs came out of retirement to challenge King, one of the world’s greatest female players, to a match, claiming that the female game was inferior and that a top female player could not beat him even at the age of 55.

Maybe you have seen some of the recent media reports commemorating that match and, like me, have been proud of the advances for women in the last half century.  Sometimes we concentrate too much on the “woes” that I reported in this blog recently.

One news report caught my attention particularly.  In an effort to put things in perspective, the reporter informed viewers that, at the time of the King-Riggs Battle of the Sexes, women were not allowed to have credit cards in their own names.  Women had the right to be included as users on their husbands credit cards, but they could not establish their own credit and could not be issued their own cards.

Did you know that?  Can you even imagine it?

I can still recall the moment that I discovered it and my reaction.  In 1980, when I was new to private practice, I had the opportunity to represent a corporate client on issues related to women’s credit rights.  I was amazed to learn that, until the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 and the amendments of 1976, a woman had no opportunity to establish her own credit history and identity.  In fact, because a married woman’s credit was solely defined by her husband’s credit, if she divorced, she had no credit rating at all—-not to protect herself or to protect her children.  This seemed completely unimaginable to a young woman attorney, whose wallet was full of credit cards with her name on them.

My disbelief and amazement led to a law review article, “Credit Opportunities for Women:  The ECOA and its Effect,” that was published in the Wisconsin Law Review (Volume 1981, Number 4).  At that same time, I also delivered a paper on the subject at a conference at Georgetown Law attended by law students and faculty and members of the DC Women’s Bar Association, and it was clear to me from the podium that the audience members were as shocked as I to learn how close they had come to not having these rights that we all were taking for granted.

Although I take pleasure in hearing the media commenters describe the King-Riggs match and its impact on the world of sports, I know that the most important thing about that story is where we were as women in 1973 and where we are as women now.  Billie Jean King did us all a favor, and we need to return the favor by celebrating her victory, understanding its significance, and protecting the future for women.


Career Counselors, Law School Educators, Law Students, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | 1 Comment

Thought For The Day

Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.


Thought For The Day | Comment

More on the “Opt Out” Experience

My last blog explored the “Opt Out” experience and the women of the early 2000s, especially, who received very positive societal and media attention for the decision to abandon professions and careers to stay home with their children.

As chronicled in the recent article in the New York Times, “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In,” the choice to opt out of successful and promising careers seemed easy and logical for many women.  Once they had children, they found that their work and professional lives became very complicated, challenging and disappointing.  Working part-time did not appeal to them because they felt “marginalized” and like “second-class citizens.”  So, they left.  They walked out on professions and jobs they had nurtured for years, and they never looked back.

Or did they?  It seems like looking back is the hardest part.  Lives have changed for the women profiled in the article.  Marriages have failed, and running the school auction did not turn out to be as satisfying as some had imagined.  Attitudes about the negative effects of working mothers on the development of their children are being questioned, and sociologists are now talking about a fear of excessive mothering.  It is all very confusing, and some of these women clearly feel like they were “snookered” somewhere along the way.

Some dealt with it better than others.  There is the Opt-Out woman, who, in spite of leaving the workplace, stayed connected and volunteered at high levels to maintain her social network.  She was able to jump back in to become an assistant dean at a law school.  She reminds me of myself.  I, too, took some time off to be at home with two small children when my husband and I found that, possibly, two trial attorneys should not be allowed to have children!  Like this woman, I got involved in high-stakes charitable ventures and kept my ambitions and talents visible to those who could positively affect my future.  Although it worked for me, that was a different time and place.  With a still teetering economy and less than desirable employment figures, I do not advise it today.

Not all of the stories ended on high notes, and it has been much more difficult for some women.  Of the women surveyed for one of the studies cited in the article, 89 per cent of the “off-ramped” women wanted to get back into the workplace, but only 73 per cent were able to do so, and only 40 per cent got full-time jobs.  Most of the jobs these women returned to paid less and had far less responsibility than the jobs they had left years before.  Their confidence had waned, and they felt much less empowered.

This is a comprehensive article, and I am only giving you the highlights here.  Consider it research, file it away, and access it when you need it.  It does not begin to resolve the age-old debate about the benefits of feeding your professional aspirations and those of always putting  family first, but it does open our eyes to some of the issues surrounding the Opt-Out decision and why it needs to be carefully considered and crafted.

For me, there was an echo in the room.  Be careful what you wish for … you just might get it.

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Thought For The Day

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.

Chinese Proverb

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