Progress

Lawyer Belva Ann Lockwood, Authors Matthew Brady/Levin Corbin Handy, Source Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division http://loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpbh.04374/ (PD)

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 [1].

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 working 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 [2].  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 [3][4].

This then is progress.  Not much progress, admittedly.  But progress, nonetheless.  We have a long way yet to go.

[1]  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.

[2]  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.

[3]  Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “Pay Equity and Discrimination”,  http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination.

[4]  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/.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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16 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Justice, Law

16 responses to “Progress

  1. My retort: Women are “hormonal”? I’d say the disgusting men you mention are/were suffering hormonal issues themselves–guys who talk like that clearly have not much cerebral going for them. Obviously I still need an extra helping of “grace” for men. And I’ll continue praying for progress to speed up already–you, and the women you serve with, deserve so much MORE. God bless you.

    • Thank you, Shadeau. When I was young, I used to figure I’d outlive the misogynists. But the pace of change has been glacially slow.

      • Absolutely glacial, sister–misogyny is so hurtful, and the perpetrators don’t seem to catch on that it ultimately hurts them as well. As you know, God’s design was for men and women to work well together as a team, each complementing the other. People have so missed the mark, resulting in relationship carnage and deep, deep scarring.

      • Abuse is a prime example of the sin nature of mankind. However “civilized” we may believe we’ve become, the problem recurs in each generation. It saddens me that some younger women do not recognize the rights they now have were hard-won.

      • That’s true, Anna–some youngsters are not so interested in the history, and the women warriors who continue to make it ❤

  2. Not at all surprised to learn of the behavior of Roger Ailes. The entire televised news network at Fox always seemed to me to exist for the sole purpose of parading attractive women before the cameras,not delivering actual news to the populace. Sometimes it seemed more like a variety show than the news,and there had to be someone at or near the top setting the “standards”. Enter Mr. Ailes…

    From the accounts you have given about life as a lawyer,it is obvious to me that the “good old boy network” mentality is alive I and well outside the world of manufacturing where I live.

    I have never completely understood the issue of equal pay regardless of gender. Meaning,what’s the problem here? It all seems so simplistic: a task is assigned with clear goals and expectations that are equal for everyone. Those goals and expectations are either met or they are not and compensation is given based on that fact alone, regardless of gender. Nothing about gender or sex should ever become a factor,it is strictly about performance. What is so hard about that?

    Where I work there are many females who carry the same title that I do and I can assure you that many of them are paid much better than I am. When I look at the body of work that some of them do it is obvious that they deserve more than I do because they earn it! They don’t get it because they are female,nor do I get less because I am a male. It’s about performance,nothing else. Seems to me that performance must be the standard,not gender. What about that is so hard for the business community to accept?

    Have a great week Anna!

  3. This doesn’t surprise me a bit, Anna. Women have always been underpaid and there’s no reason for it. The women in my offices ALWAYS completed better work in less time than even the best men I employed. Almost all were even better sales people. I’m very happy to say that almost all of my managers were women, and they made not a penny less than a male would have made in the same role. In fact, I’ve never had the thought of paying anyone else differently because of gender or race. This is a verse I think of often: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

  4. Apple of His Eye

    Ah Anna you have done so well! Proud of you! I was a secretary to 8 Managers, looked after my mother, and a single parent all at the same time, full-time work too! As a single parent I always felt I couldn’t say ‘no’ to working over time in case I lost my job. I remember one time two women, both single parents were left late at night having been there over 12 hours. Ironic everyone else left on time. This always stayed with me. The bottom line is women still get a rough deal. If they work the tasks at home mainly get done by the women. Yes we are all supposed to equal but some are more equal than others wouldn’t you say. I’m glad this guy has been exposed but I wonder what the company will pay him to keep quiet? One day this will be all over and then we will all be genuinely equal with no favouritism of either sex. jacky xx

  5. Apple of His Eye

    Forgot to mention one of those two women was moi!

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