I am so disturbed after yesterday’s news out of Georgia where eight women were killed in what look to be hate crimes. All of the facts are not in on these horrific crimes, but just knowing that all the victims were women is disturbing enough. When you add that these women may have been targeted because they are of Asian descent, it is all the more disturbing.
I hope that the Violence Against Women Act finally passes this time around, and I hope that we start to do a better job of educating young men about how to show respect for women. So many of the crimes against women happen in the home, where one in fifteen children in the U.S. witnesses domestic violence, and it is a cycle that repeats itself. Demonstrating respect for the women in the home is critical to stemming the tide of this most regrettable form of violence.
And, we also must start to take sexual harassment, gender discrimination and gender bias in the workplace more seriously. Even though harassment, discrimination and bias cannot be equated with violent crime, they can leave life-long scars and negatively affect opportunities for women.
Looking back at my career as a lawyer, I thought we would be much further down this road by now. When I began law practice in 1979, it might have been understandable that the presence of women in the law profession was still new and that there would be a learning curve for the men who controlled the profession. Well, the days of that learning curve are long over, and what has resulted is just a convenient series of excuses to justify slow progress on inclusion, retention and advancement for women lawyers. According to the most recent statistics published in February 2021 by NALP, only 22% of equity partners in major law firms today are women. And those results have not changed appreciably in the last ten years that NALP has issued its annual diversity reports. Gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and gender bias play a big part in these unfortunate statistics, and it is time that our profession figured this out.
The hatred and resentment toward women needs to stop. I have no patience for men who say that women are getting too much preferential treatment these days. That women are taking jobs and positions away from men and that it is not fair. Not fair! Apparently these men know nothing of the last four hundred years of American history when women were considered to be chattels owned by men, when women did not have the right to vote until 1920, and when women worked both at home and outside the home at the same time to be good caregivers for their young children and to help build a secure future for their families. And the list goes on. Yes, apparently that part of history has been forgotten by some.
So, today, I am thinking of my sisters. My sisters inside and outside the law profession. My sisters of all skin colors and backgrounds. My sisters who need and deserve protection from violence and unequal treatment.
As we close the book on March and Women’s History Month, we need to resolve to do all that we can to protect the women. After all, it is the women who protected us and gave us the best possible starts in this complicated and challenging world.
It is time for pay back.