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Women Judging Women

When we discuss gender equality at law firms, we look for all kinds of reasons why women don't advance, from the billable hour to lack of work/life balance to less-successful rainmaking skills.  But could it be that part of the blame lies with women lawyers at the top, who may judge the  up-and-coming generation of smart women too harshly?

That's one thought that came to my mind after reading this post at Ann Reed's Deliberations, about a recent study on how women are judged in male gender-typed jobs.  Whereas both men and women judge successful women harshly, women apparently do so "as a self-protective strategy against threatening upward social comparisons."   

If the study is valid, then prospects for women advancing at law firms are dimmer than I'd imagined.  Obstacles like the billable hour and work/life balance are equal opportunity offenders, because they hurt both men and women who are family-minded.  As for rainmaking, women have the ability to master these skills once they recognize their importance.  But how's a woman to overcome the latent discriminatory tendencies harbored by other women?

Do you agree with the results of this study?  In your experience, have you found that female-on-female discrimination exists in the legal profession?  And does female-on-female discrimination account for the "glass ceiling" at law firms?

On a related note, Ms. JD is doing its part to address some of these issues.  It's sponsoring an essay contest, asking participants to address questions, such as:  What do you say to a colleague who says she had to put in hard work, why shouldn't you?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on January 23, 2008 at 04:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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