Roger Ailes (founder, Chairman, and CEO of the Fox News Channel) has stepped down in the face of a barrage of sexual harassment complaints by female employees. An investigation by parent corporation, 21st Century Fox, in response to a lawsuit by Gretchen Carlson, uncovered at least 20 similar claims, capped by that of star anchor, Megyn Kelly .
Fox has long been known for a frat boys atmosphere, so this is progress.
When I first thought about becoming a lawyer, there were only 3%-4% women in the American legal profession. At the first client gala I ever attended, the senior partner introduced me with the words, “This is the shape lawyers come in now.” At the first golf outing I ever attended, I could not join clients at the bar. It was restricted against women.
Conservatively attired in the most formal business suits I could find, I was in the early days routinely mistaken for witnesses, court reporters, and women from the services responsible for tracking court dates, until I identified myself as the lawyer on a case. I was paid less than my male counterparts, often worked longer hours, but made partner at a time that was still a rare achievement for women.
Mind you, Belva Ann Lockwood (1830-1917) had been the first woman lawyer to argue before the US Supreme Court a full century earlier.
Although I worked alongside some wonderful men, I knew lawyers who joked about their “bimbos”, boasted about the size of their genitals, and commented on the number of female orifices available for sex. Not even support staff would all work willingly for a woman. We were presumed to be hormonal.
None of us complained. In one situation, a confidential memorandum was inadvertently circulated, documenting that women at a particular firm would not be considered for partnership. None of the women who were impacted – intelligent, ambitious women – chose to protest. They would not only have been fired, but blacklisted.
Today, 52.7% of law degrees in the United States are awarded to women. Only 18% of the women in private practice, however, are equity partners . Only 1 in 4 Fortune 500 General Counsel is female. As of 2014, female lawyers earned just 83% of the weekly salary male lawyers did.
Of course, the wage gap between men and women across all full-time jobs is 21%. In 2015, women – the breadwinners in 4 out of 10 homes – made a mere 79 cents for every dollar men did .
This then is progress. Not much progress, admittedly. But progress, nonetheless. We have a long way yet to go.
 The Guardian, “Roger Ailes Accused of Harassment by at Least 20 Women, Attorneys Say” by Molly Redden, 7/21/16, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/21/roger-ailes-sexual-harassment-accusations-fox-news.
 American Bar Association (ABA), Statistics from the ABA Commission on Women, “A Current Glance at Women in the Law – May 2016”, http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/marketing/women/current_glance_statistics_may2016.authcheckdam.pdf.
 Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “Pay Equity and Discrimination”, http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination.
 The American Association of University Women (AAUW), Economic Justice, “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap (Spring 2016)”, http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/.
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