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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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Life Imitates Law: Feisty Boys, Hysterical Dudes

Posted By Bobbi-Jo Dobush, Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Feisty Boys, Hysterical Dudes

 

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the words used to describe migrants – words that evoke a sense of fear, of disaster – stay with us as we learn about issues of migration and color our perception thereof. The post sparked some conversation and questions about the words typically used to describe women, including professional women, and how language choice affects each of our lives (including our careers). I’ve been doing some digging on this and I want to share these resources, which range from scholarly to smile-inducing:

 

Adult Female Humans = Women.

  • To paraphrase actress Mayim Bialik’s video, one can normally recognize a girl by the fact that she is under 18 and may live with her parents. Being CEO of a company or a mother is a decent indicator that the person in question is, in fact, a woman, not a girl. In line with my previous post, Bialik gets that “language sets expectations.” This is a fun watch. 
  • Gina M. Florio’s 2016 Bustle Article posits that calling women “girls” is infantilizing, creepy, and perpetuates an obsession with female youth. On top of that, we rarely call men “boys” and calling women “girls” prevent us from treating each other as equals. 

Feisty Boys, Hysterical Dudes. 

Gendered Language Bias in the Workplace.

  • In a study analyzing the language of hundreds of performance reviews from professional and technology services companies women were 2.5 times as likely to be called out for aggressive communication styles as men and twice as likely praised for their teamwork or collaboration than men.
  • This problem is not confined to the law: a 2016 Nature Geoscience article found that women are about half as likely as their male counterparts to be described as excellent in recommendation letters, whether the letters are written by women or men. 

Additional Resources:

Please comment and let your fellow Lawyers Club members and me know what you think: Are we perpetuating sexism by refusing to recognize it in its daily forms? Have you ever called anyone groomzilla? (I have, for the record.)   

 

Bobbi-Jo Dobush believes that sharing our diverse passions—for example the arts, the ocean, or salsa (the condiment)—can positively influence our practices. 

Tags:  art  awareness  bias  discrimination  equality  girl  language  LCB 

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Life Imitates Law: Words Can Convey or Destroy Dignity

Posted By Bobbi-Jo Dobush, Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Life Imitates Law: Words Can Convey or Destroy Dignity

 

Bombastic litigators, craftsman brief writers, and shrewd contract drafters all stake their clients’ best interests on choosing the right words in the search for just outcomes. So, as much or more than to anyone else, lawyers should care how we refer to other humans, especially those most vulnerable.

 

Flood, wave, swarm – these words evoke a sense of fear, of disaster. Reading headlines with such words, I struggle to remember if should get under the desk or into a door-jam.  But these aren’t headlines about tsunamis, earthquakes, or hurricanes. Instead, a quick news search of articles in recent months comes up with titles like “Flood of Illegal Immigrants Continues at Texas Border,” “Illegals Pour Across Border Before Trump's Inauguration,” and “Illegals Swarm in.” After reading those, who wouldn’t be scared of migrants?

 

Helen Zaltzman, that’s who. Zaltzman fearlessly confronts language on a bi-weekly basis in her word-nerd podcast The Allusionist, Small Adventures in Language. (Catch me on my morning commute soaking in some etymology.) Allusionist Episode 53, The Away Team, is all about how terms used to describe migrants have become increasingly negative over time. The episode focuses on Britain, but is equally applicable to our side of the Atlantic. 

 

Zaltman and I are both offended by the misuse of words in the migration context. Many of us refer to fellow humans by category (refugee, asylee, unaccompanied minor). Propaganda and migration specialist Emma Briant opined that doing so gives “preference [for] how officials are sorting [people] over their very basic humanity.” To make matters worse, terms that were once neutral have become negative. Since when do “refugees” or “asylum seekers” (people who are, by definition, escaping persecution) invoke skepticism and not sympathy? Also—and this should really trouble us as lawyers—the term illegal gets tossed about lightly in this context. Most migrants have broken no laws, and even those who have are not “illegal” because, to quote Briant again, “people cannot be illegal.” 

 

Zaltzman, interviewing novelist and editor Nikesh Shukla, further highlights how often migration status is used as a proxy for race. All over the English-speaking world, wealthy or middle class whites who have chosen to live abroad are “expats” not “immigrants.” We never talk about a “swarm” of wealthy white people (well, maybe talking about Coachella, but that’s a conversation for another time.)

 

The Away Team ends with a reminder that most words in the English language are themselves immigrants (French, Latin, Germanic, Greek, and Scandinavian). Zaltzman warns that without such immigrant words, “you lose at least 60% of modern English plus most scientific and technological vocabulary.”   

Many Allusionist episodes are about fun stuff like sex (Episodes 50-51, Under the Covers) or manners on either side of the Atlantic (Episode 33, Please); however, there are other great listens with a focus on equality like Episode 12, Pride, or Episode 52, Sanctuary.

Bobbi-Jo Dobush believes that sharing our diverse passions—for example the arts, the ocean, or salsa (the condiment)—can positively influence our practices. 

 

Tags:  art  awareness  bias  discrimination  equality  immigration  language  LCB  podcasts  word choice 

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Perfection in the Imperfection: "Defining Ourselves - PART II"

Posted By Alisa Loigman, Monday, January 9, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Defining Ourselves - PART II

PART I of II --- was posted on 1/3/17
 


WHO are YOU?
Take a moment to soak in your response to that question. Grab a note pad. Let’s play with this idea and how to add more congruence of ourselves into the professional arena. Write down your top three best personal qualities (for this exercise, lets refer to these as our “authentic self”). Take a moment to acknowledge how amazing you are. Next, write a list of five ways to appropriately incorporate those qualities into your client or colleague interactions (“action points”). These five action points can be small or large but make sure they are easy to practice and feel peaceful. Now, incorporate more of your authentic self into your daily routine, enacting one per day for one week. As you incorporate more of your authentic self into your professional practice, make note of three things: (1) How did you feel practicing your action points and allowing more of your authentic self to be present at work? (2) Did you notice any differences in your interactions? (3) Did your awareness and presence with your authentic self impact your perception of WHO you are?


I encounter many amazing women in our field and, when we get personal and open up, I often hear the struggle of being too stressed, not having enough time, and feeling like something always has to suffer for something else. I hear guilt and, almost always, that guilt stems from everything that we have internalized. (Because, duh, a professional is serious and not emotionally intelligent. Really?) Sometimes we tell ourselves stories that do not serve our highest good. Does this resonate for you in any part of your life? How can we feel more authentically like ourselves, personally and professionally? I believe that it starts with finding where you can add more of WHO you are into WHAT you do. Be unique. Break the mold. Manifest YOUR dreams. We are the unique qualities we bring to our roles, not simply the individual roles themselves.


I want to take a moment to respect the dynamic beauty that each of you uniquely possess. You’re smart, motivated, passionate, organized, and so much more. Do you remember to see this in your morning routines, meetings, billable hours, work deadlines, personal appointments, and family obligations? Do you remember to acknowledge these radiant parts of yourself? Release the guilt of not being enough; you are enough. Be kind to yourself; you do enough. Give grace to any discomfort that may arise in your journey of growth; you are exactly where you should be. I am in awe of all that you are, all that you are working towards, and everything you have been. WHO are you? You are whole. I am whole. Together, we are whole. I will not hold you back, stifle your growth, or judge you for the journey you are on and the challenges you are overcoming. I stand by your side in support of your fullest potential and greatest desires. Take the tim
e to reflect on the beauty of WHO you are, I do.


This blog was authored by Alisa Loigman.

Tags:  Authentic  Awareness  Balance  Definition  Identify  Intentions  LCB  perfection in the imperfection  Personal  Professional  Qualities  Self  Successful  What  Who 

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Perfection in the Imperfection: "Defining Ourselves - PART I"

Posted By Alisa Loigman, Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Defining Ourselves - PART I

Who are you?  No, no… not what do you do. Who are YOU?

 

When we are busy filling the many roles of life, we often forget to self-identify with WHO we are and not WHAT we do. Yes, what we do can be a large part of our identity but we are not served by defaulting to defining ourselves by our professional titles. The BBC News recently posted an article entitled “Why you shouldn’t ask people what they do” (by Alina Dizik) and one specific sentence grasped my attention: “Even the most successful executives will benefit from disentangling their sense of self from what they do.”

 

Ahh, yes, this got me thinking: WHO am I? (Deep breath, pause) If I answer that question professionally: I am a forensic accountant in the world of litigation and marital dissolution proceedings. If I answer that question personally: I am a dynamic woman, a wild spirit, a humbly soft and down to earth mother, a nurturing wife, and a compassionate friend; I am an individual with great capacity for love, kindness, and drive. Similar to most, I often lead with describing myself professionally, but much prefer the more personal answer.

 

I am sometimes overcome with feeling that WHAT I do overshadows WHO I am in my daily life, that my “self” gets lost in the context of the life roles I play (professional, mother, wife, community volunteer). I spend the majority of my waking time in my office and struggle with leaving that professional persona behind. I want more: to be more; to feel more; to play more; to achieve more. In order to create that abundance, I must first observe the unquestioned part of WHO I am in life and find more ways to bring my authentic self into my professional role. My intention is to create more balance in my life; my long-term success and happiness depends on it. This is the life that feels sustainable, empowering, fulfilling, and impactful. 

PART I of II --- find out who YOU are in Part II, will be posted 1/10/17


This blog was authored by Alisa Loigman. 

Tags:  Authentic  Awareness  Balance  Definition  Identify  Intentions  LCB  perfection in the imperfection  Personal  Professional  Qualities  Self  Successful  What  Who 

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more Calendar

6/4/2019 » 6/18/2019
2019 Golf Lessons

6/5/2019 » 7/13/2019
SHIRTS for 2019 Pride Parade

6/20/2019
Eighth Annual General Counsel Roundtable Luncheon

6/27/2019
Golf Tournament

6/27/2019
2019 Post-Golf Tournament DINNER-- now open!

7/13/2019
Pride Parade

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