It’s Women’s History Month and this year marks the 30th anniversary acknowledging March as the legal Women’s History Month in the United States! We gladly celebrate and honor the contributions women have made to events throughout history and our modern-day society. Studying her-story is important as it helps teach and inspire the next generation, highlighting women’s progress in equality and the positive change which has occurred alongside it. This month we acknowledge the triumphs by those who have fought to shape and revolutionize our path.
Starting on a high note, much like our weekly Eblasts celebrate the victories of our clients, celebrating the past benchmarks in history for women teaches us all a valuable lesson for our future. Anything and everything is possible and if you don’t have a seat at the table, you make one. Arabella Mansfield became the first female lawyer, admitted to the Iowa bar in 1869. One year later, Ada Kepley, was the first American woman to graduate from law school in 1870. Continuing our trend of honoring amazing women is Charlotte E. Ray, who was the first African American female lawyer in the United States.
These are all significant first that have opened the way for millions to follow. Fast forward to modern times wherein 1981 Sandra Day O’Connor becomes the first woman supreme court justice and Ruth Bader Ginsburg the second just a few years later. Having women in higher positions throughout the legal community, government or any workforce always leads to positive change as it allows a different perspective and voice to be heard. Intern this representation encourages other women to aspire to those roles of leadership as well.
For the first time since the Census Bureau began collecting data on higher education attainment, women are more likely to have a bachelor’s degree than men. Yet, the last decade has shown a pay gap slowly progressing. The change in equal wages may be slowly closing but a similarly upsetting issue of gender discrimination and racial inequalities continues to appear. As we celebrate our progress, it’s important to take this time to reflect on the fact that there is still much change to be had.
Today, women account for nearly half of the workforce yet still earn less than men. When it comes to acknowledging this fact, the legal profession is one of the many career fields that has fewer women in executive positions and of even lesser pay. The gender wage gap was first brought to attention in the year 1963 when the Equal Pay Act was signed by President John F. Kennedy. While this act did begin the minimization of the gap, there is still much more work to be done today.
On average, a woman today is likely earning 78 cents to the man’s dollar. Even more, the last decade has displayed the slowest progression when it comes to closing the wage gap. Some pay gaps in the legal profession have been seen as high as 38.6 percent when comparing the differences between men and women. The American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association found that many women lawyers have reported that they are often mistaken for administrative staff, court reporters, or even custodial staff. Another noticeable issue women face is the “angry woman” stereotype which forces them to walk a fine line while in the workplace or courtroom. A woman who acts assertively will often be criticized. But, if she chooses to not be assertive out of fear for being criticized, she now is considered to lack confidence needed to succeed. It is a double standard that women know all too well which pours over into the courtroom frequently, often leading to mistrust from the jury or being penalized by a judge.
When listening to the stories and experiences of those around us it is important to remember “change” is everyone’s responsibility, and we must all do our part to understand and educate ourselves on what needs to be done to promote that change.
Here at DK Global, we believe in working together to create the best experience for those in and out of our own little corner. While we strongly believe that it is important to continue to move forward in our work, we also believe it is important to progress in our society. We encourage everyone to recognize, accept, and do their part in adopting key elements in your professional life to further support equality in the workplace and beyond. Today, and for the rest of this month, we recognize and honor the women in the past who have helped us get where we are today and the women who are playing a key role in where we want to be tomorrow.
Celebrate with us as we share a special message featuring some of our amazing female colleagues and peers. Read about It Here
Coming March 26th exclusive interview with Attorney Jenny Anglin of Simon Law Group.