Four Ways Women Lawyers Are Treated Differently

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.

So, are these issues coming up for you.  Feel free to DM me on Instagram - I'd love to hear your experience/questons!

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.​

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