More thoughts on how to help women navigate their careers

images-1We all know that being a woman in any field comes with their own set of issues.  The legal and banking industry is super tough.  Having a family and trying to continue on with the same amount of hours and pressure from your male counterparts is not easy.  I am pretty sure that most women entering into these fields are a bit blindsided until they get there.  I might be speaking out of turn but that is the feedback I have got from the women I have talked to over the years.

Someone I have known for awhile through our kids school reached out to me to talk about what is next for her and her friend.  Both super smart successful lawyers.  They wanted to bounce some ideas off of me.  We began to talk about angel investing, education, politics and many of the areas that they might be interested in.

Then we began to talk about how tough is it for women in their field.  Who were their mentors?  Did they have any?  Were they mentoring any young women coming up the ranks?  I asked them “How can you both help women in your field navigate their careers”?  More important, is that an area that they would be interested in.

I suggested that they start with the law schools that they went to.  Think of a stump speech about the realities of being a woman in the field of law and what to expect.  Does anybody really talk about that?How can they help the next generation of women going in to law create a community for themselves to lean on?  Those sharp elbows were so unattractive when they came up the ladder.  Can that change?  Change never happens inside it always happens outside.  Does it make sense for women to spend a few years at an established law firm learning the ropes and then going out on their own?  How hard is it to have children and raise a family as a power lawyer?  The conversation flowed.

In the end, I hope that they think about being the voice for the next generation of women lawyers.  The importance of community for all women in any business is to have mentors, peers and community to talk to.  People who can support them, cheer for them and to give good advice.  Walking away from law after all those years is a waste.  Go back and make an impact on the next generation.  What a great way to give back.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Our friend Anne Libby enlightened me very much on this when she showed me an old news story about a group of women (in Boston, I think?) back in the ’80’s who actively decided to form an alliance for the purpose of getting each other further up the ladder. They were all in hospital administration.They met regularly (I think, monthly) for breakfast or dinner to talk specifically about what each one needed in terms of career support and mobility and how the others could help. Sure enough, they all went on to great heights in their field.It inspired us to form our own group here in the NYC area. Additionally it inspired me to commit to helping any woman when she asked, in any way I could, to amplify women’s voices (online) whenever I can, and to generally take a supportive attitude towards women in general. Even when that means supporting a woman’s right to be wrong or make a mistake without being burned to the ground. I’ve always been supportive of women, but now it’s more intentional. I am watching rather than waiting for opportunities to help and support.I think women at all stages of their careers should be forming alliances like the one from Anne’s news article. Intentional connections that are consciously about moving each other forward.

    1. Gotham Gal

      that is very cool

  2. pointsnfigures

    Think it’s a great idea for women attorneys to go back and speak at their law school. the men might get something out of their message that clicks too. It’s not a women’s issue, but I remember being in a class where I got in a heated argument with my professor over motivational theory (Hackman-Oldham). Turns out, he was right. 15 years later, I reconnected with him and he recalled the incident and we laughed about it. Of course, he was Oldham and wrote the theory.I am not so sure they can change anything demonstrably by going back and speaking-but they certainly can set expectations and help with preparation. That’s 90% of the battle.