Women in the law – always an interesting issue and one raised recently in the best-ever read article in Atlantic (from Anne-Marie Slaughter) and entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”. Now AbovetheLaw have had their writer Valerie Katz take a small firm look at whether size is really important for women.
The article looks at Slaughter’s view that the reason women can’t have it all is because the gender gap has not come close to being closed and women do not wield sufficient power in sufficient numbers.”
Katz’s ATL article observes that some women simply don’t want to have it all, whether they’re in a small firm or not.
As Katz writes: “I have never aspired to “have it all.” The role models I see who come close lead lives that I do not want. During my days as a Biglaw associate, I worked for a 50+-year-old female partner who had two grown kids, a successful marriage (although she had like six last names, so successful might be a stretch), and a thriving practice. She was also bitter, mean, and resentful. She wanted the associates who worked for her — all women for some unknown reason — to suffer the slings and arrows she had to in order to ascend the ladder of success at the firm. She did not have it all.
When I went to a small firm, I worked for a woman who had no children, no husband, and a thriving practice. She worked all the time because she (a) liked money, and (b) had nothing else to do. And, she wore those same brightly colored power suits as Gloria Allred. She did not have it all. (Although, she had an awesome collection of red blazers.)
As I was leaving the small firm, a younger woman was made partner (because Power Suit went to a different firm). She had three kids, a successful marriage, and a collection of suits that were once worn by Calista Flockhart on Ally McBeal. She hated her kids, her husband, and her life. She did not have it all.
If I am to base my image of the woman who has it all from Slaughter’s piece, she is a mother, wife, and leader. That still does not sound like having it all. Based on the article, the kids end messed up, the husbands sound pathetic, and the women work all the time.”
Having said all of that, Katz notes that some women attorneys even in small firms really do still want it all and will jump through the necessary hoops to do it. But – big question – is that really having it all? Or just playing the same game as those other power-seekers: men.