Common Obstacles for Women Lawyers

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It is an unfortunate fact that women in the law earn less than men, on average. However, there are many more women involved in legal jobs than there used to be. What are some of the obstacles that women entering the legal profession face? That's the question we wanted to find out the answer to, so we reached out to lawyers and others involved in legal careers, both female and male, to get their opinions about what these obstacles are and how they are overcome. Although we live in modern times, discrimination is still evident in many professions, even if it may be unintentional in many cases. We hope you enjoy reading these insights as much as we did.

The hardest obstacle for a woman lawyer to overcome is ignoring well-meaning advice on what she should do to further her career.

When I decided to go to law school in 1954, about 3% of this country's lawyers were women. When people heard about my decision, they all tried to talk me out of it saying that that was not a proper occupation for a woman.

When I did become a lawyer, I was told not to concentrate on women's rights, the issue I cared about, as the road to money and success lay in corporate law.

I chose to follow my passion-women's rights-and did not take their advice. As a result, I became the first woman lawyer in the Office of the General Counsel at the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), a founder of NOW (National Organization for Women. I played a role in the revolution in women's rights that has taken place in this country, along with its spillover to the rest of the world, and am constantly being showered with recognition and awards.

Sonia Pressman Fuentes
Speaker, Author, "Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter"

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