This Boston Globe article has a discussion of an interesting study conducted by the Massachusetts-based Equality Commission report on Women's Obstacles to Leadership. The study concludes that:
"(f)emale lawyers continue to face intractable challenges in their attempts to become partners, causing them to abandon law firm careers -- and the legal profession entirely -- at a dramatically higher rate than men, according to a local study to be released today.
As explained in the article:
The dropout rate among women lawyers is overwhelmingly the result of the combination of demanding hours, inflexible schedules, lack of viable part-time options, emphasis on billable hours, and failure by law firms to recognize that female lawyers' career trajectories may alternate between work and family, the report found.
In attempting to explain this disparity, some echo Justice Kennedy's language in the recent Supreme Court decision Gonzales v. Carhart and claim that the reason for this variance is that there is a special bond between a mother and child and women can't help but stay at home with their children. Other allege that women make a choice to have children and must therefore face the music when it comes to that choice.
I disagree. The mother and father make a choice to have a child. And each family is faced with the issue of how to realistically incorporate that decision into their everyday lives.
Every family is different and every family's situation is different. One path is not necessarily better than the other or more "true" to nature. Of course motherhood affects a womanâ€™s life, just as fatherhood affects a man's
But parenthood doesn't preclude parents from having a fulfilling and successful careers over the course of a lifetime. Occasional detours along the one's career path should not affect a person's ability to practice their profession over a span of 30 years or more.
And, as I've repeatedly stated in the past, as more and more Gen X and Gen Y men refuse to be absentee fathers and slaves to the billable hour the landscape will slowly change--of that I have no doubt. In the mean time, we do the best we can under the circumstances and wait for aging, inflexible dinosaurs at the top of the legal hierarchy to retire and fade from sight. This too shall pass.
For more on this study, see:
Additionally, please note that I've added a new link of interest to the "Seeking Balance" section of my sidebar: Mommytrack'd.com. Carolyn Elefant explains that it is a "a website with a mission to provide time-crunched, over-extended, multi-tasked-out moms an informative and entertaining resource to help alleviate some of the stress associated with working outside the home while raising a family." Head on over and check it out.