“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
I don’t know what your politics are, and I really don’t care. You don’t know my politics either, and we will keep it that way. My parents taught me not to talk about religion, politics or sex in polite conversation, and I try to remember it.
However, politics does not have to be part of the discussion about yesterday’s election for the next President of the United States. There were other issues at stake. The election results were disappointing for some who were hoping to usher in the first woman president in the history of our country. They wanted to hear the highest glass ceiling in the land shatter. It did not work out that way, and, for them, I say do not lose heart.
This campaign season helped us to focus on issues that continue to be important. Women’s issues cannot be put on the back burner any longer, and the discussions in the national media over the course of the campaign about gender discrimination and female objectification, gender pay equity, women’s health issues, a woman’s right to choose and related topics have built on a narrative that is not going away. Maybe you would have felt more comfortable with a woman president leading the charge on these issues, but that should not shut you down.
Keep on going to improve conditions for women. And, for sure, do not take anything for granted. This election was considered by some (including the pollsters who now are looking for work and will be for a long time) to be a done deal for Hillary Clinton days before the entire country voted. National polls were repeatedly cited supporting that result. And look how it turned out.
The takeaway is that we as women must always be vigilant. The challenges still remain, and we always must be the best version of ourselves because we will continue to be judged differently than men. Our mistakes will be judged more harshly, our behaviors will be judged more harshly, and even our appearances will be judged more harshly. Nothing could have been more obvious in this campaign. Both candidates tripped and fell, but it was the woman who suffered more.
Eyes are always on you. Understand it, deal with it, and make it work for you. If these challenges are what drive you to excellence and accomplishment without scandal and impeachment, then it is a good thing and you will be the kind of woman who is ready to lead.
All the way to the White House.
Theodor Seuss Geisel
As I prepare my remarks and slides for a program I am presenting to a law firm Women’s Initiative in Dallas next week, I am reminded that women lawyers are often skeptical of joining women’s affinity groups. Although I would like to see all women lawyers benefit from what an effective Women’s Initiative can offer, I understand the reluctance. It is time away from billable hours, and many of these initiatives are nothing more than gripe sessions that creative negative rather than positive energy.
To assuage your concerns and hear from another woman lawyer on this subject, I recommend that you read this article. The author learned to appreciate the real value of professional women’s affinity groups, and I think you will, too. However, I hope you start a little earlier in your career so that you do not lose valuable time to enhance your career in every possible way. And by doing so, I hope that you will avoid the feelings of isolation the author experienced after starting a family and understanding the “harsh realities” of the work-life struggle for women lawyers.
Here is more of what the author learned:
As you will note, the author came to appreciate and value professional women’s affinity groups through her experience at her local Women’s Bar Association. Those groups are very important to your career as well, and I have been involved in mine, the DC Women’s Bar Association, since I graduated from law school. I volunteer my time there with Best Friends at the Bar programs, including a book talk I will present there in December. These groups widen your horizons and provide a broad network of women lawyers who are faced with the same challenges you experience throughout your career.
My best advice to you is to pursue a Women’s Initiative in your law firm and mentorship programs in your Women’s Bar Association as early as possible. If you are not impressed with the quality of the programs, volunteer to make them better!
Also, check out my multi-session program to support law firm women’s initiatives. Here is an overview of the sessions:
Contact me if you would like more information about this program. Also read the information on “Improving Women’s Initiatives” in my book, Best Friends at the Bar: Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2015).
Good luck on your journey!