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Lawyers of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome.

 

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Off the Beaten Partner Track: "It’s Time to Stop Blaming Women for the Gender Pay Gap"

Posted By Jillian Fairchild , Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It’s Time to Stop Blaming Women for the Gender Pay Gap


It is time to stop blaming women for the pay gap. Women have shouldered the bulk of the criticism for the wage gap for years. The results of a new study show that the differences in pay between men and women is actually due to discrimination.

 

In conjunction with the discussion regarding the wage gap between men and women, there have been many reasons given for the differences in pay. In addition to the discussion regarding the biases contributing to the problem, many of these explanations seem to either blame the women themselves or criticize what was deemed to be their natural characteristics.

 

Some of the reasons frequently given for wage inequality include women’s failure to negotiate pay and taking time off to raise children. There have also been some that argue the reason women are paid less is because women tend to choose lower paying jobs. Men, it is thought, choose better paying jobs like science, tech, engineering, and math.  Meanwhile, women become teachers or work for non-profits.

 

One of the other reasons frequently asserted for wage inequality is that women don’t ask for raises. Simply put, women do not get what they deserve because they don’t ask for it. Women are less likely to negotiate for themselves because they are socialized from a young age not to promote their own interests. Also women tend to assume they will be recognized and rewarded for working hard and doing a good job. Unlike men, this theory goes, they haven’t been taught they can ask for more.

 

A recent study debunks this commonly held idea that women are less aggressive negotiators when it comes to pay. A new study shows that women do ask for pay raises just as often as men, but the problem is they are less likely to get them. This study showed that women were 25% less likely than men to get a hike in pay when they asked for it. The researchers noted that they expected the study to show that women were “less pushy” than men, but their findings showed there is discrimination against women.

 

The results of this study show what most women already know - discrimination is a reason for the gender wage gap. Women sense there is discrimination keeping the pay gap in place, but there are entrenched ideas that it is their fault. They are taught that if only they asked for more raises, did not choose family over work, and chose the right careers then they would make more money. However, this study shows that even if women did everything right, there would still be inequality due to discrimination.

 

From now on when we hear someone blaming a woman for getting paid less than a man, then we should speak up. We need to point out there is inherent sexism keeping women from closing the gap that no amount of negotiating can close. We need to stand up for each other until this discrimination no longer exists.

 

This blog was authored by Jillian Fairchild. Jillian is a full-time litigator and full-time mom who spends her spare time trying to keep the princess culture away from her daughter (and failing miserably!).

 

Tags:  Gender Pay Gap  LCB  Off the Beaten Partner Track  wage discrimination  women negotiating salary 

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Guest Blog: "Lawyers Club of San Diego has a New Committee Focusing on Reproductive Justice"

Posted By Mehry Mohseni, Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"Lawyers Club of San Diego has a New Committee Focusing on Reproductive Justice"

 

Lawyers Club of San Diego has two new committees – The Reproductive Justice Committee and the Women’s Advocacy Committee. The two are a split of the former Reproductive Rights and Women’s Advocacy Committee. Why the split and why change from reproductive rights to reproductive justice?

 

Many of the victories won under the reproductive rights movement have typically been limited to two topics: access to contraception, and the availability of safe and legal abortion. At the very core of the movement is a desire for these basic rights to be guaranteed under the law. But for many, particularly women of color, the fight does not end there. A much broader set of concerns stems from the barriers for many women in actually realizing these rights.

 

Thus, a change in the movement arose, and the term “reproductive justice” was originally coined to represent the unique fight of women of color for reproductive rights, blended with an ongoing fight for social justice. Reproductive justice moves beyond the focus of individual choice, and closely examines the way in which our communities and government may create inequality for women through limited or no individual reproductive choice.

 

The term Reproductive Justice has been defined as: “The complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women's human rights.” It’s important to note this movement stretches beyond a woman’s right to limit the number of children, if any, she wishes to have. It also addresses the right a woman has to raise her children with dignity in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.

 

Including the important perspective of a diverse group of women allows the movement to unfold layers of oppression that our communities face, through an intersectional analysis of women's “real life” experiences. Some of these cross-sections include women of color, women with disabilities, incarcerated women, women involved in sex work or sex trade, low-income women, and LGBTQ women.

 

One alarming and complex example of the reproductive justice analysis occurred in Texas in 2011 after state lawmakers decreased funding for family planning services by 66 percent, closing 82 family planning clinics. Not only did low-income women in particular have less access to birth control, but the number of pregnancy-related deaths doubled from 78 in 2010 to 148 in 2011.

 

A task force was created to examine this increase and discovered a shocking statistic - African-American mothers accounted for 11.4 percent of Texas births in 2011 and 2012, but 28.8 percent of pregnancy-related deaths. The task force stated the overall increase in deaths was likely due to a “multitude of factors," including the funding decrease coupled with a lack of affordable health care for low-income women. The reproductive justice framework analyzes the effect of these drastic funding cuts from the perspective of women of color and low-income women who are already at risk of not realizing their full reproductive health needs.

 

I’m excited to Co-Chair the new Reproductive Justice Committee this year and to challenge Lawyers Club members to view reproductive health not just from the legal stand point that we are used to, but in a more complex and broader context of well-being and community. I hope you will join us!

 

(Meetings are held the first Friday of the month at 12:00-1:00p.m. at DLA Piper downtown. Contact Mehry Mohseni or Chelsea Mutual with any questions on how to get involved.)

Mehry Mohseni is a family law attorney with Cage & Miles, LLP and co-chair of the Reproductive Justice Committee. 

 

Tags:  guest blogger  LCB  reproductive justice  reproductive rights  womens advocacy committee  women's advocacy committee 

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My So-Called First-World Problems: "The Seven Most Miserable Moments for Women this Election Season"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Tuesday, November 8, 2016
The Seven Most Miserable Moments for Women this Election Season:

7. Trump mansplains a Muslim woman voter at a town hall-style debate, “We have to be sure that Muslims come in and report when they see something going on,” after she poses a question about combating Islamophobia.

6. The vice presidential debate, during which the word “women” was uttered 20 times in connection with the following topics:

  • In reference to reproductive freedom: 13
  • Men and women in military service: 2
  • Quoting Donald Trump’s descriptions of individual women: 2
  • Men and women in law enforcement: 1
  • Quoting Hillary Clinton on women’s rights: 1
  • Women as political colleagues: 1

Based on this breakdown: Women are 66% reproductive chamber, 10% objects of male ridicule, 24% human people.

5. The selection of Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana, as major party’s VP nominee. Mr. Pence is so hostile toward abortion that recent legislation in Indiana mandating funerals or cremation for miscarried fetuses and barring abortion in cases of fetal abnormalities gave rise to the “Periods for Pence” movement. This, in a state where public funding of abortion is prohibited except for cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest; state law limits private insurance coverage of abortion; parental consent is required, and women are subject to an 18-hour waiting period after receiving mandated counseling on fetal pain.


4. #Repealthe19th – After realizing that Trump would win the election if the right to vote were reserved to men only, Trump supporters (male and female) took to Twitter with this hashtag, claiming that a Trump victory is more important than suffrage. Fortunately, they haven’t advocated #Repealthe13th. (At least, not as of press time.)


3, 2, and 1, in no particular order:

  • A major-party nominee boasts about his sexually assaultive behavior.
  • Political leaders describe their chagrin with the major-party nominee’s boasts in the following ways: “as the father of three daughters” (Mitch McConnell);  “as the grandfather of two precious girls” (Jeb Bush); “Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters . . . ” (Mitt Romney); “[W]e’ve got a 15-year-           old daughter” (Jason Chaffetz); and, even the nominee’s own running-mate Mike Pence chimed in, “[a]s a husband and a father, I was offended.” As shrewdly     observed by Amanda Marcotte on slate.com, these men invoking their wives and daughters, “fram[es] sexual violence as a property crime against male-controlled female bodies, rather than a crime against people with rights.”

Rebecca Zipp is a person. While she derives much joy from her husband and sons, she understands that her intrinsic value as a person does not stem from her status as a wife or mother.

Tags:  Abortion  elections 2016  mansplain  politics  sexual violence  victim-blaming  voting  voting rights  women 

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"Women Hold the Power in this Election - Let's Use It!"

Posted By Jamie Quient, Tuesday, November 8, 2016
 "Women Hold the Power in this Election - Let's Use It!"

On the day of the final presidential debate of this election cycle, my mother-in-law told her classroom of third-grade students something she had never told her students in her twenty-five year teaching career – she said that while ultimately it is up to their parents to decide, she did not think it was a good idea for them to watch the debate.
 
As the debate kicked off, my college roommate from Canada texted me as she pulled up to the couch, popcorn in hand, to watch the best reality show on television.  

While it may seem like we are watching a bad reality show, what is at stake in this election is far too real. Many people are so appalled with this election that they plan to stay home on November 8. It’s hard to blame them. At times this campaign has been appalling – stirring up pockets of racism, xenophobia, anti-Islam, anti-immigrant, and sexism, among other hateful viewpoints.  

While deciding not to vote is also an important right, this election is too important to sit out. 

The bedrock of our society is the right to vote and women fought incredibly hard for this basic right of citizenship. Less than 100 years from when women gained the right to vote, women now have the power to decide who runs this country – from President to City Council; from Congress to School Board. In 2012, nearly 10 million more women than men voted.  And this year, the gender gap is expected to be the largest in history. 

With this power comes responsibility. The first and primary responsibility is to show up and exercise our constitutional right. Staying home would be a disservice to all those who fought for us to have this right nearly 100 years ago.

While an important first step, simply voting will not achieve our mission of women’s advancement. As leaders in the feminist movement, we have a duty to ensure that we elect representatives who will fight for women, justice and equality for all.  

We also have a responsibility to ensure that the people we elect actually advance issues we care about once they are elected. As feminist lawyers, we have a critical role to play in the policy-making process at all levels of government. There are so many issues impacting women that we have the power to influence. 

One of the key areas where women need our help is workplace reforms. According to the United States Department of Labor, women comprise 47% of the total U.S. labor force. Nevertheless, workplaces have been slow to evolve and adapt to the presence of women, who biologically remain responsible for child-bearing and who still shoulder more child-rearing responsibilities than men. Men too want to see workplace reforms that enable them to support their families such as paid family leave and affordable child care.
 
We also need to advocate for polices aimed at eliminating poverty and ensuring economic security for all. Nearly 6 in 10 minimum wage-earners are women. That means that by raising  the minimum wage to a living wage, we are helping women and families.

We must also continue our work to protect women’s reproductive rights and advance other reproductive justice issues.  Reproductive justice goes far beyond the issue of choice – it encompasses all issues relating to women’s social, political and economic power. 

Finally, the Presidential election and a number of recent high profile cases have made the issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault front and center. When the election is over, we must keep these issues at the forefront of the public discourse and stand up to say enough is enough! 

No matter what political party or candidate you support, go vote. Women fought too hard for the right to have a say in our political system to stay home on November 8. And on November 9, the real work begins.

Jamie Quient practices insurance coverage and intellectual property litigation at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLC and is President of Lawyers Club.

Tags:  election day  enough is enough  go vote  LCB 

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Guest Blog: "The Painted Door - Stories of Sex Trafficking Survivors"

Posted By Daphne Delvaux, Tuesday, November 1, 2016

"The Painted Door - Stories of Sex Trafficking Survivors"

 

During the past three years I have organized regular workshops at GenerateHope. GenerateHope is a home where young girls who have been subjected to sex trafficking can live and heal. We have visited this home regularly with a small group of Lawyers Club members. During these visits, it has been our goal to provide the women with a safe environment where they can express their desires and ambitions. Together, we talk about their future, a future often previously considered unattainable. We encourage them to dream again, while brainstorming career paths and proposing practical steps to achieve these objectives. Here are some of the stories from GenerateHope. For privacy purposes, the names have been altered:

 

Eva wants to be a writer. She wants to write a screenplay about her experience being trafficked. She wants to share her story because she wants young women to know, “usually it starts with falling in love with the wrong guy.” She said, “Writing gives you so much freedom.” We encourage her to send us her screenplay so we can review it and provide feedback. Softly, she responds, “I used to think I had no right to have a voice.” 

 

Olivia wants to work in the tech world. As a child, she was isolated, scolded, and abused. She was not allowed to play with other children. She said, “Video games helped me escape my own reality.” Now, as an adult, she wants to create video games herself. She wants to remove the stigma of the female gamer. We encourage her to visit community colleges to learn about technology, and to let us know if she needs help applying for scholarships.

 

Grace wants to go to the police academy. She said she has had bad encounters with the police, and she feels like officers should understand how it feels like to be on the other side. Alternatively, she wants to volunteer with an animal shelter, and search and care for abandoned animals. We connect her with a local dog walker who needs help.

Emily wants to be a cook or a florist. She likes working alone and she likes creating beautiful things. After our visit, we reach out to caterers and florists to ask if she can shadow them for a day.

 

Sophie wants to be able to support her son. She lost her son to “the system” due to her trafficking experiences. She grew up in a foster home. She is upset that her son is also not in a stable environment. She wants to get a job as a barista because she loves people. She then wants to manage and eventually own a coffee shop. She has decided that she will call the coffee shop “The Painted Door.” It will be a place for children without a stable home to gather and play. The children will be allowed to paint the door a different color every day. She wants to provide them with purpose and a community. For herself, all she wants is her son back. She said, “I don’t want to drive a fancy car, I just want to get by, and see my son’s smile every morning.” We tell Sophie we are happy to help her write her resume, look for barista jobs, and prepare for any interviews.

 

I was shocked by my own biased presumptions when I went into this experience. First, I assumed all these women would come from an unstable, neglected, or abusive home. This is not the case; there is no one profile of a trafficking survivor. Second, I assumed trafficked women would mostly be foreign. Turns out I was usually the only foreign-born person in the room. Trafficking is an American issue happening to local girls. Third, I assumed they would be emotionally fragile and reluctant to speak with attorneys. It is true that some were skeptical towards our visit, as most of their interactions with lawyers and law enforcement had been punitive and some of did not feel ready to share their hopes and desires. But overall, these women possess a high level of intelligence, perseverance, strength, and courage. They are eloquent and poised, and ready to take on the world.

 

One constant I discovered is that most women seek a future in care. They want to care for others because they know what it feels like not to be cared for themselves. I always leave feeling humbled and inspired, and ready to pursue life with more compassion, more empathy, and more conviction to help those in need.

 

Daphne Delvaux is an employment lawyer and wrote this on behalf of Lawyers Club's Human Trafficking Collaborative.

Tags:  guest blogger  htc  httf  human trafficking  human trafficking collaborative  LCB  pro bono  volunteering 

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Guest Blog: "Clean Slate Clinic"

Posted By Kristen Fritz, Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"Clean Slate Clinic"

In just a few hours, you can help to drastically change someone’s life for the better.


Like most people, I hope that my life will have meaning and that I will positively impact those around me. In short, I want to make a difference and I seek out opportunities to do so. I am compelled to write about a recent experience where I did a small task that made a huge difference in someone else’s life. Two weeks ago, I volunteered for the second time at the San Diego Clean Slate Clinic. The Clinic is held once a month, staffed by volunteer attorneys, law students, and members of the community. Training is provided, so no experience is needed. The Clinic provides free legal information, NOT legal advice, to help individuals reduce or expunge their criminal records. Although the law makes provision for this, the process is complex and confusing, and most people seek help from the Clinic. In recent months, they have had nearly 50 participants in a given day. 


At last month’s clinic, I worked with a woman who was a mother of three. She had a felony conviction that was preventing her from getting employment, housing for her family, credit, and education. Although I cannot discuss the specifics of her matter, I can tell you that the facts that lead to her conviction (for which she pled guilty acknowledging her wrongs) would leave you shaking your head, and I know that you would be in awe of the wonderful and giving woman that she is. It is clear that she is not a “criminal,” but a person who committed a crime and she deserves a “clean slate.” 


In a few hours, we assisted her in the preparation of court forms and a declaration to have her felony reduced to a misdemeanor, and then to have the misdemeanor expunged. We made the copies she needed, gave her an instruction sheet on where to go, confirmed she understood what she would need to do to file the petitions, and sent her on her way to change her life. Throughout the hours we were together, she repeatedly thanked us for being at the clinic, for giving of our time and ourselves, and for helping her to get back on the path to achieving all that she wanted to in her life. I assured her that it was truly my pleasure to be there with her.

 

I left the clinic feeling elated that I could make a difference in one person’s life, but I began to wonder how many people the Clinic could help if they had more volunteers. I learned that the Clean Slate Clinic has had to turn away 10-15 participants each month over in the past few months, simply because they did not have enough volunteers to assist them. It shocks and saddens me that something can be done to help people and the only thing standing in the way is not enough people to do it. 

 

The Clinic’s co-founder, Keiara Auzenne, told me that they could easily scale up the Clinic to serve more participants if they could count on a specific number of regular volunteers each month. Therefore, I encourage—and implore—you to sign up and join me at the next Clinic on November 5, 2016, just after Pro Bono Week
(October 23-29)
, and/or to commit to volunteering at the Clinic on a regular basis. 

 

Together we can make an exponentially greater difference in the lives of so many people! 


Kristen Fritz wrote this on behalf of the Lawyers Club Community Outreach Committee and hopes you are inspired by Pro Bono Week. 

Tags:  clinic  COC  community outreach committee  expungement  LCB  pro bono  pro bono week  san diego clean slate clinic  volunteer 

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"Stories to Solutions"

Posted By Jamie Quient, Monday, October 24, 2016

 

“Stories to Solutions”

 

Lawyers Club’s Enough is Enough campaign continues with launch of “Stories to Solutions” blog series – a safe space to share your stories and work towards solutions.


     
In response to the sexual assault and harassment allegations that emerged in the Presidential election, First Lady Michelle Obama declared “enough is enough.” Mrs. Obama’s speech struck a chord with me (along with millions of others) as she took on the issue that so many women and men face in their personal and professional lives. This discussion goes far beyond partisan politics - it strikes at the heart who we are as a country.

 

     Since its founding in 1972, Lawyers Club has led the community in the fight against sexual harassment. Forty-four years later, we are still fighting this pervasive problem through our “Enough is Enough” campaign to end sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace.

 

     We kicked off the campaign last July with a sold-out luncheon on “Stories to Solutions: A Candid Conversation About Sexual Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace.” The next step in this campaign is to give our members a safe space to tell their own stories and identify solutions through anonymous blog posts in a special blog series called “Stories to Solutions.” These blog posts can be on topics such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, rape culture, street harassment, bullying and/or any type of gender-based harassment or aggression.

 

     The purpose of this initiative is to empower women to speak up and to highlight the prominence of these issues in the workplace and in society. We need to remove the stigma associated with those that report these incidents and eliminate shame and self-blame that victims of harassment often feel. We can also help ensure victims are believed when they report these incidents by raising awareness of the prevalence in our community.

 

     These blog posts will also inform our efforts to develop solutions to these issues and address the larger systemic problems that continue to disrupt women’s safety and overall advancement. To that end, bloggers are encouraged to share not just their experiences, but what they learn from them, what they would do if this happened again, advice for others in similar situations, what Lawyers Club can do to address this issue and/or any other take-away you want to share.

 

     All Lawyers Club members are invited to share their personal stories anonymously (or not) by emailing them to Rhianna at Rhianna@lawyersclubsandiego.com. Rhianna will remove all names and identifying information upon receipt and then post the stories to our “Stories to Solutions” blog series. Blog posts can also be submitted by anonymously mail by sending them to Lawyers Club of San Diego, 402 West Broadway, Suite 1260, San Diego, CA 92101 Attn: Stories to Solutions.

 

It is time we all stand up and say “Enough is Enough.” So join us – share your story and be part of the solution!

 

Jamie Quient is a civil litigation attorney at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP and President of Lawyers Club of San Diego.

Tags:  bullying  enough is enough  gender discrimination  LCB  sexual assault  sexual harassment  stories to solutions  street harassment  StS 

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Chasing the Last Wave: "Finding Hope in a Tee Shirt...And in the Next Generation"

Posted By Molly T. Tami , Tuesday, October 18, 2016
"Finding Hope in a Tee Shirt...And in the Next Generation" 


Over a decade ago, I gave a presentation on the topic of “Women in the Law: How Gender Shapes the Experience” to the women’s network group of a large Midwest law firm. The audience included women of various ages, from the first woman partner in the firm (who boasted of how she played the men’s game), to mid-level women attorneys who had negotiated their own creative work arrangements with the firm, to the young women associates who expected the firm to address and meet their needs for flexible work arrangements and family-friendly policies. During the “sticky” discussions that followed my presentation, I was reminded that the language of feminism is not embraced by many women, and I experienced firsthand how the perspectives and expectations of women lawyers of different generations are not necessarily aligned and may at times be at odds.

Many of us have benefited from the enormous gains of the feminist movement while recognizing that gender barriers still exist for women in our profession, and for women generally. Given that perspective, we naturally get discouraged at times when we perceive that some women (lawyers and others) do not see the need to embrace the feminist cause and continue the movement to ensure equal opportunity and advancement for women. We may even find ourselves losing hope for future generations of women.

Nowadays, we often hear young women eschew the importance of feminism and decline to identify as a “feminist.” They say they don’t see the need for the movement or the relevance of the label. Although I don’t have poll results to prove it, I suspect that many women law students today do not see their gender as a potential obstacle to their advancement in our profession, nor do they see an urgent need to continue the fight for gender equality. Notable exceptions include members (male and female) of women law student organizations across the country. The USD Women’s Law Caucus student organization at USD Law is a perfect example.

The USD Women’s Law Caucus recently tabled at our law student organization fair and sold tee shirts to support their events and activities. I excitedly purchased one for myself!  The front side is branded with the group’s logo while the back has the following in bold lettering:

Feminist:/Fem-en-ist/: A person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

Simple but powerful language. I hope to see many USD Law students sporting this shirt and spreading the message. 


Given the recent climate on gender issues and the sexist rhetoric we've heard during the current presidential campaign, my fervent hope is that many young women and men will realize that we are clearly “not there yet.” We have a long way to go and we must fully commit ourselves to chasing the last wave of feminism.  I have hope that all generations will join the chase, and now I have the tee shirt to prove it.   

This blog was authored by Molly Tami. 
Molly Tami serves as the Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development at USD School of Law.  She previously designed and taught a course on Law, Gender and the Work/Family Conflict and is passionate about advancing women in the legal profession

Tags:  Chasing the Last Wave  equality  feminism  feminist  gender  generation  hope  law student  LCB  legal profession  movement  organization  women  women’s law caucus 

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Confessions of a Litigator: "The Pineapple Dress"

Posted By Jaclyn A. Simi, Tuesday, October 11, 2016
The Pineapple Dress

Summer ‘16

Riverside, California

Like most Americans, I look forward to Friday night all week long. For me, Friday night means that I am free to stop compulsively checking my email every 2 minutes. It also means that I can finally set up my signature bed picnic (i.e. beach towels on my bed, take out, and Bachelor In Paradise, or whatever show I’m currently binge watching). In my opinion, if you’ve never had a bed picnic, then you’re not living.

As you can tell, I have Friday nights on lock. However, on this particular Friday night, I was in Riverside and had just finished preparing a witness for his deposition the next morning. Sometimes, on Saturdays, I trade boot camp and avocado toast for a Theory suit and objections.

As I stepped out of my hotel’s lobby, the sun was setting on the hottest Friday in the I.E. known to man. I had one thing on my mind – a vesper martini at The Mission Inn (obviously). I decided to walk 2 sweltering blocks in 110 degree heat to the Inn because driving would have been tragically lazy, and not to mention, rude to the environment. After one scorching block, I was approached by 2 men in their 40’s.  The first man leered at me and said in a gravelly, aggressive voice, “Smile for me, baby.”

Back in my people-pleasing days (pre-2015), I would have placated him with a sweet smile while quickening my pace. Not today, and probably never again, will I have that reaction. Today, I raised my chin, looked ahead, and acted like these men didn’t exist. However, I would have liked to say “I’m not your baby” or an expletive-laden phrase, such as, “Go f* yourself,” but I held back.

They didn’t like my non-reaction. Man number 2 came towards me yelling, “You’re a stuck up, b*. F* you! I could have you right now if I wanted you, b*!”


My stomach dropped in shock and fear. Please God, let them leave me alone. There were only a few people around and I could have easily been mugged, or worse. I kept walking and gripped my mace like it was the very last pair of rare Louboutins in a 6.5 at Saks. I didn’t look back until I reached the Inn’s gloriously air conditioned lobby.

I sunk into a table near an oddly soothing gargoyle fountain with equally odd statues staring down at me from the balconies above. Still in shock, I pondered what had just happened. I mean, we’re all familiar with catcalls on the street and offers of drinks from creepy men that can’t take a not-so-subtle hint, but this was next-level.


I called a friend and relayed my story to him. He asked, “What were you wearing?”


“My pineapple dress,” I answered.


“Oh, that’s why. That wouldn’t have happened if you were wearing workout clothes,” he mused.


“Excuse me?” I asked, not looking for an answer.

I lashed out, “Why does everyone blame the victim? Why are you adding insult to injury? Do you know how ridiculous I would have looked in long sleeves and Lululemons in this heat…at this restaurant?”

I angrily hung up the phone and took a swig of my martini. I tried to focus on finishing China Rich Girlfriend (btw, so good), but I couldn’t get my mind off the men on the street. Why should I regularly have to tailor my wardrobe and transportation choices to whether I might encounter a misbehaving man?

           
I contemplated walking back to my hotel because I shouldn’t have to take a car service on a beautiful summer night (by this time, it had cooled down to a tolerable 90 degrees) as a result of a couple of losers. All I ask, in this post at least, is that men treat women with respect, and that women aren’t blamed for what we’re wearing (or aren’t wearing). A bikini, high heels, or a pineapple dress doesn’t give anyone license to harass, assault, gossip about, or rape us.


Eventually, I gave in and made the smart decision. I tapped away at my iPhone screen and ordered up an Uber…to go 2 blocks.


P.S. If you’re wondering how (not) risqué the pineapple dress is, here you go: https://is4.revolveassets.com/images/p4/n/d/SHOW-WD131_V1.jpg

 

This post was authored by Jaclyn Simi. Jaclyn is an employment litigator who loves animals, far-flung beaches, and Jimmy Choos. 

Tags:  blame the dress  cat call  Confession of a Litigator  harass  lawyers club  LCB  Louboutins  misbehaving men  pineapple dress  riverside  smile  stories to solutions 

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Chasing the Last Wave: "What's Diversity Got to Do With It?"

Posted By Molly Tami, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What’s Diversity Got to Do With It? 

  

      Throughout the history of feminism, women as a group have been the “other” gender fighting for equal rights and equal opportunities. While women make up almost half of total law school graduates, the data confirms that women are not equally represented in law firm partnership, in corporate counsel offices, on the bench or in other leadership positions in our profession. We are all familiar with the explanations and reasons given for this, and we continue to struggle to change this reality.

 

     Our hope for change is fueled in part by the notion that legal employers want to boast of a “diverse” workforce to attract diverse candidates as well as to meet their clients’ expectations and demands for a diverse group of people to work on their legal matters. The arguments for diversity are indeed compelling. But isn’t it perplexing that women, particularly those with family responsibilities, feel at times that they have to stake their claim to executive positions or positions of leadership in the name of diversity rather than equality?

 

     I’ve been thinking about that question since spending a weekend with five corporate lawyers, all working in the auto finance field in the mid-west (a male dominated arena). These women are all very accomplished and successful. One of the women in her mid-forties was struggling with a decision about whether to pursue an even bigger job at her company. In reality, she felt that she was already doing most of the duties of the elevated position but not getting the recognition or pay for it. At the same time, she values her current work arrangement which allows her to leave in the afternoons to pick up her child at school, and then return to work either at the office or at home. And on Fridays, she works remotely from home. She wanted to pursue the new position, but did not want to lose this flexibility and ability to manage and enjoy both her work and family life.

 

    She was discussing with our group how she might approach her boss about taking the new position/title while keeping her current work arrangement. Her proposed argument to the boss went like this: the company wants and values “diversity” in executive roles and as a working mother she provides that diversity. My immediate reaction to that argument was this: why do women who have both proven their worth in the workplace and value their family role have to pitch their worthiness for a promotion in the name of diversity? What’s diversity got to do with it? Women are at least half the population in this country, and according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70% of women with children under 18 participate in the labor force. So why do we still view the ideal worker norm as an individual (male or female) whose work life exists in a vacuum void of consideration of family responsibilities?  

 

    This is a difficult issue that I will attempt to explore in subsequent posts. For now I raise it to bring awareness to it as a major obstacle that we must address. When it comes to women being equally represented in leadership positions within the legal profession, we are definitely still “chasing the last wave.”

 

This blog post was authored by Molly Tami. Molly Tami serves as the Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development at USD School of Law.  She previously designed and taught a course on Law, Gender and the Work/Family Conflict and is passionate about advancing women in the legal profession.              

Tags:  bias  Chasing the Last Wave  diversity  family responsibilities  feminism  feminist  gender  LCB  leadership  legal profession 

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