FIRST THOUGHT: It's the Law
Ladies, laddieees (Oprah voice). Sometimes the law can feel overwhelming or nonsensical. So, a rapist gets three years of time served, but a mom who steals milk for her kid gets a cool decade? (I made that up, but you know what I mean). What?
During your lunch break today, explore your city or country’s laws. All it takes is a Google search. In the United States, for example, it’s illegal for a dude in a similar position as yours to be given more stock options than you. It’s totally legal for an employer to discriminate based on age if they favor someone older than 40 than someone younger, but not vice versa. If you’re pregnant, it’s forbidden to be dismissed for features like job assignments and training, and in a lot of ways, the law sees a mama-to-be as a temporary disabled woman. The more you know, right?
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 22 Percent
There are so many aspects of the law that affect women and disadvantaged individuals, in particular. It hasn’t been that long since segregation and redlining, discriminatory practices America can’t seem to shake, were a-OK . On a lighter note, to this day in Vermont, women need permission from their husbands before they can wear false teeth.
That’s why it’s exciting to see that 46 percent of associate attorneys are women. But it might be a while before they become partner at a law firm, because only 22 percent of partners are female.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Angel Zimmerman, President of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Association
Progress doesn’t happen alone. Heck, it’s why students who participate in study groups often do better in school. Joining a group of your peers and gathering a support system is crucial to your success. That’s something to consider as we talk about Angel Zimmerman.
Angel is the president of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Association (NCWBA). This Topeka, Kansas-based attorney recently participated in a panel to talk about how, for the first time in its history, the J. Rueben Clark Law School has more women than men. Part of the discussion centered on the B word: balance.
As a mom of four, Angel calls her law firm a “family firm.” She’s the managing partner of Zimmerman and Zimmerman, P. A., but getting the position wasn’t easy. She says that instead of vacations to Disneyworld with her kids, she’d incorporate getaways with conferences and business events. Angel’s motto is to combine everything and put it all in the same pot. She abides by the same philosophy when it comes to her church and seminary activities; she says if you get her, you get all of her.
Angel says it will be the year 2181 by the time women make up a mere 30 percent of partners. That’s a long time, y’all. Within this industry, there can be both bias and equality. In countries where barrister robes (AKA those outfits lawyers wear on TV) are the norm, like Canada, female litigators can feel visibly equal to their male counterparts. Even still, Angel mentions that pregnant lawyers can be informally admonished for disrespecting the robe by altering it to fit. Yikes.
Back in 2016, the NCWBA launched an initiative that sounds downright genius to tackle issues like sexism. Called the GOOD Guys, or Guys Overcoming Obstacles to Diversity, the idea is to draw female leadership into the conversation.
That 2181 statistic I mentioned earlier scared Angel, and she couldn’t help but wonder if her great-granddaughters would be repeating this same conversation. Hopefully, thanks to her efforts, they won’t be.
QUITE THE QUOTE
One of Angel Zimmerman’s life and career philosophies comes from the famed educator and businessperson, Stephen Covey, who said:
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”