Law School Discussion

Why so few female partners at top firms?

twarga

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Re: Why so few female partners at top firms?
« Reply #30 on: May 31, 2005, 11:04:25 AM »
we've become so selfish that our children are afterthoughts to our careers.  ::sigh::  sad really.  

Hubby and I have juggled our careers around the kids.  It's not impossible to do.  When I pulled almost 5-years straight of reserve duty (over 200 days per year) in Germany, they allowed me to work from 7-3 without a lunch break so that I'd be able to get the kids from school.  When I worked as a commander's secretary and had to be in by 6:30, he let me bring the kids in with me and then take them to school at 8 (they hung out in a spare office).  Hubby had an office job (within air traffic control) his last 3 years on active duty, and he scheduled his day around the kids.  Hubby's getting his masters in education and plans to work in the same school district where our kids go so he's home when they're home.  I don't want to do Big Law (I'm too old and tired to act 25 again), but I want a successful career in a small to mid sized firm.  Life is always about balance and compromise, and with a little creativity, nobody comes last.

Re: Why so few female partners at top firms?
« Reply #31 on: May 31, 2005, 11:42:27 AM »
I have a question.  Is it possible to take maternity leave while on the partner track?  Does it set you back a couple of years or rule you out entirely?  I don't want to wait until I'm 35-37 to start having kids...

HippieLawChick

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Re: Why so few female partners at top firms?
« Reply #32 on: May 31, 2005, 12:18:44 PM »
I think that part of this is the perception that women will abandon the big firm in favor of having children.

Whether we are actually planning on kids or not, the infamous "old boys network" still believes that we will and this is in the back of their heads when they make decisions.

If there are to be any innovative solutions to this issue, it will have to come from women, as we are the ones being affected the most.  (Unfortunately, the women who make the change will end up foregoing having families in order ot be powerful enough to institute the changes.) 
Where are Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin when you need them? (for those of you under 30, that's a reference to the movie '9 to 5')

Are we there yet?

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Re: Why so few female partners at top firms?
« Reply #33 on: May 31, 2005, 12:28:36 PM »
I think that part of this is the perception that women will abandon the big firm in favor of having children.

Whether we are actually planning on kids or not, the infamous "old boys network" still believes that we will and this is in the back of their heads when they make decisions.

If there are to be any innovative solutions to this issue, it will have to come from women, as we are the ones being affected the most.  (Unfortunately, the women who make the change will end up foregoing having families in order ot be powerful enough to institute the changes.) 
Where are Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin when you need them? (for those of you under 30, that's a reference to the movie '9 to 5')

Which begs the question...how do the women on this board think a law firm should handle maternity leave? Should a woman be asked to pick up where she left off, or should she be treated as though she never left?

Dolcejn

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Re: Why so few female partners at top firms?
« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2005, 12:39:42 PM »
The article that Phanatic posted left me a little...unsatisfied.  I think it is extraordinarily presumptuous to connect a higher number of women in the work force with all of the terrible statistics of crime, etc., that the article quoted. I highly doubt that this is the problem. 

As a counterexample, I grew up with a father as a professor and a mother as a lawyer.  I had a babysitter who would stay with me until my parents got home from work, and I adored her.  I also adored my parents, who devoted most of their spare time to me.  I never once saw my parents fight, we always ate around the dinner table, and I can honestly say I had the best childhood possible, not least of all because my mother provided me with such a good example of what I could become.


twarga

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Re: Why so few female partners at top firms?
« Reply #35 on: May 31, 2005, 12:45:59 PM »
After I had my second baby, I was going to be the greatest stay-at-home mother EVER!!  It lasted 9 mos.  I couldn't hack it.  I need to be earning a little money outside the home.  I need to be out there.  When the kids were very small, I worked a few part-time (10-15 hrs. per week) jobs in retail and waitressing.  It provided me with the outlet I needed.  In 1997 I joined the reserves and have been doing it ever since.  It makes me feel successful and productive, and I'm a much happier mommy.  Happy mommy=happy family.  If I'd repressed my desire to work I'd be miserable and the kids would feel that.

Re: Why so few female partners at top firms?
« Reply #36 on: May 31, 2005, 12:49:13 PM »
Putting together one set of statistics with another set of statistics (crime rate and working mothers) does not an argument make. There is also no back-up for the argument that is should necessarily be the woman who spends the 'post-school' time with the children.
Women (and men) do not need to sacrifice a meaningful career in order to raise their children.  My parents changed their schedules so that one of them was there with me during the day before I started school, and in elementary school one of them (or grandparents/great-grandparents) was there after school.  Once middle school starts, many kids participate in sports or other activities til 5 or after anyway.  It's really not THAT difficult to work it so that one of the parents is with the child most of the time, as long as you aren't working ridiculous hours.

As far as maternity time goes, most women aren't out of work for any extraordinary amount of time, so it shouldn't matter too much either way.  But- if you have, say, 6 weeks of vacation time a year (just making these numbers up)- a man wouldn't be penalized as far as making partner for using his vacation time would he?  If not, then I don't think women should be penalized for using their maternity leave.

Re: Why so few female partners at top firms?
« Reply #37 on: May 31, 2005, 01:27:34 PM »
Actually, I think that many BIGLAW firms would punish you for taking 6 weeks of vacation. It seems like most associates rarely ever take vacations. If you do, you are slacking. Having vacation time available is just an illusion. Even if you plan something, you may be called to stay in the office to work on something. Worse, you could have to work during your vacation, or end the vacation early to come back to work.

I would venture to say that if you regularly took all of your yearly vacation, you would be skipped over for partner unless you were a complete superstar the rest of the year.

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Re: Why so few female partners at top firms?
« Reply #38 on: May 31, 2005, 01:40:02 PM »
Putting together one set of statistics with another set of statistics (crime rate and working mothers) does not an argument make. There is also no back-up for the argument that is should necessarily be the woman who spends the 'post-school' time with the children.
Women (and men) do not need to sacrifice a meaningful career in order to raise their children.  My parents changed their schedules so that one of them was there with me during the day before I started school, and in elementary school one of them (or grandparents/great-grandparents) was there after school.  Once middle school starts, many kids participate in sports or other activities til 5 or after anyway.  It's really not THAT difficult to work it so that one of the parents is with the child most of the time, as long as you aren't working ridiculous hours.

As far as maternity time goes, most women aren't out of work for any extraordinary amount of time, so it shouldn't matter too much either way.  But- if you have, say, 6 weeks of vacation time a year (just making these numbers up)- a man wouldn't be penalized as far as making partner for using his vacation time would he?  If not, then I don't think women should be penalized for using their maternity leave.

I seriously doubt many biglaw associates are taking 6-weeks vacation time.

Re: Why so few female partners at top firms?
« Reply #39 on: May 31, 2005, 01:59:08 PM »
I agree, I don't know an associate or a partner who has taken off 6 weeks for a vacation, at either a large or small office, and I know a lot of attys.  In addition, associates and sometimes partners are expected to work Mon-Sat, and the occasional Sunday if they want to be on "partner track."  Even a short vacation can be view as "not partner track behavior" and set someone back.  I've have heard those words many times.