Thoughts for Women’s History Month
For 4 years I worked as the only woman on a trial team with a group of male lawyers who were great colleagues to have. However, case after case I always questioned—where are the women? It eventually came to my understanding that there were not many women in the applicant pool to do litigation or trial work. I suspect this is also the case in other trades that are typically understood to be better fit for men. The next obvious question then is—why?
The answer to that question might be complex, but no doubt it is related to the historical plight women have had to even be, and then compete on, the same playing field as men, and our plight to break the stigma and stereotypes of what type of work or roles we are allowed to have. Ironically, the actual value that women bring to the playing the field is not so complex. At a recent meeting hosted by the National Association of Women Lawyers a juror consultant brought all the data proving that women were just as effective lawyers as men, and jurors tend to be more favorable toward diverse trial teams.
The advantages women bring to the table are not limited to the courtroom. Corporate America too has recognized the benefits of developing women leaders and in fact, many undertake specific programs tailored toward this. The statistics have been consistent and clear, that companies with more women in management also experience an increase in profitability. More women in management also better ensures the continuation of the cycle to develop even more women leaders since women are more likely than men to nurture their employees. A better-nurtured employee is likely to be more productive, so ultimately this is a healthy cycle for corporate existence.
Notwithstanding the benefits, of which I’ve only scratched the surface of above, women only hold about 6% of the Fortune 500 company CEO roles. The percentages of women in other management and executive positions across various industries are similarly dismal. Likewise, the number of women making law firm partnership is not promising.
After studying some statistics from the Center for American Progress certain truths are abundantly clear. We exist in number, making up about half of the United States population, we have the degrees, the professional-level jobs, and control well over half of consumer spending in the country; however, we lag significantly behind men in leadership roles. And if the current statistics are any indication of progress, consider that several great women in history have sacrificed and paved the way for us to even get to the point that we currently find ourselves at.
We should always remember these truths, and we are duty-bound to actively work toward breaking the cycles, stigmas and stereotypes that regard women as inferior to our male counterparts in any regard.
Happy National Women’s History month!