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Sadly, there are many subtle gender bias and communication issues out there that can hold us back, and until we’re able to eliminate those issues from our profession, it’s important to be aware.  Here are four examples to keep in mind:

  1. The expectations of your behavior are different.  Stereotypes cause people (both men and women) to unconsciously expect different behavior from women.  For example, men are expected to be ambitious, competitive, and to aggressively pursue their goals.  Women are expected to be caring and sensitive to others.

  2. Behaving outside of those expectations can hurt you.  When men behave in an ambitious and aggressive way, as expected, they are also exhibiting qualities that conveniently align with leadership and success.  When women exhibit those qualities that align with leadership and success, they are not acting as expected and may be disliked.  You may recall a situation where you or another woman acted competitively and were viewed as pushy and faced backlash.  Without even realizing exactly why, you likely intuitively feel that tightrope we walk, balancing between what is expected of us and what we need to do to succeed.

  3. You may be held to lower standards too.  It’s common for women to be held to a different standard – watch out for lowered expectations that can limit your success.  In other words, if you are meeting expectations but your supervisor’s expectations of you are lower than others, you will not grow or advance as quickly, even if you are doing an amazing job on your matters.  Pay attention to what is expected of others and whether goals set for you are realistic.

  4. You may be asked to do things others are not.  Women are often asked or expected to perform “team player” tasks that do not help you succeed, from so-called “office housework” such as buying the administrative assistants day gifts or booking a room for a meeting to non-billable work such as serving on firm committees that do not advance your career.  Think about whether you’re being asked to do more of these tasks than others and how much time you are spending on that type of work.

None of this is fair.  We have additional obstacles on our path to success.  Fortunately, educating ourselves and others, both men and women, about these issues can help to change assumptions and the culture of our profession.

PS – Want to get started on that education right now?  Share this post with someone else or with your friends on social media – one small step to help move our profession and world forward.

Today, we’re going to talk about one simple thing you can do to start dealing with the stress you feel every day.

So , if I asked you to name one thing in your life that regularly causes you stress, you might say “work” or “traffic” or “this case I’ve been working on,” but the things that cause us stress are usually much more specific. What exactly is it about those things that cause you stress?

There is usually something specific that you can pinpoint. For example, perhaps it’s not work generally that causes you stress, but maybe your stress level rises…

  • When you split your attention/multitask
  • When you look at your email inbox
  • Each time you add something to your to-do list
  • When you see your cluttered desk
  • When you get interrupted
  • When you notice you’re feeling tired and are moving more slowly
  • When you wrap up for the day and see what’s left undone

Learning what causes your stress can be a game changer in two main ways: [click to continue…]

  1. Diversity Leads to Profits
  2. Women Leaving the Law
  3. Best Law Firms for Women
  4. ABA Resolution on Sexual Harassment
  5. Data on Women Laterals and Insight on Retaining Women

1. Diversity Leads to Profits. Forbes discusses another report addressing the profitability of diversity and showing that gender diversity among management increases profitability even more than was previously thought. In addition, culturally and ethnically diverse management teams can expect to see better profits.

2. Women Leaving the Law. “If steps are not taken to change the current trend, the percentage of women equity partners will remain stuck at under 20% for decades to come.” – an initiative of ABA President Hilarie Bass is focused on long-term careers for women in the law. Discussions about “women leaving the law” are also taking place across the country, including at a summit to discuss and better understand why women leave the profession. Reasons discussed include work/life balance, unconscious bias, and pay gap, and next steps include an ABA statistical study on long-term career paths for women lawyers, a survey to understand solutions being used by firms and individuals, and focus groups with women who have had long careers in the law. Meanwhile, lawyer Erin Cowling suggests we “…stop asking why are women leaving. Instead, we need to start asking why is the legal profession forcing women out?” [click to continue…]

So often we let our own discomfort and fear hold us back.  Here are six things to help you move forward, even if you’re uncomfortable:

    1. Remember your goal, and compare it to your fears when they pop up.  When I first created WLN, I was uncomfortable putting myself out there, but WLN was created to help amazing women like you – when I thought about how important that was, all the worries about putting myself out there didn’t seem like a big deal in comparison.

    2. Realize that others are uncomfortable too. It’s easy to think that we’re the only ones who feel uncomfortable or intimidated. Other people often look so confident and on top of things. I’ve been fortunate to spend lots of time with amazing women lawyers all over the country, many national leaders in our profession. As I got to know them, I learned that even though they appeared confident and wowed everyone around them, they still had their own fears and uncomfortable moments. They’ve found a way to keep rocking anyway though, and that makes them even more impressive. [click to continue…]