The Generation Gap

Two Views of Being an Attorney Hurts the Old and the Young

As a millennial, I often hear the same complaint from my fellow young female lawyers: “Why is it so hard to find a female mentor?” Digging deeper, there are often two complaints.  The first: There aren’t any female partners at my firm. The second: OK, yes, there are some female partners at my firm, but they often made career and family choices that I don’t want to make.

Let’s look at both of these. Last year, consulting group Bain & Co. released the results of a five-year study on men and women in corporate America.  The study asked about both genders’ interest in pursuing a top management position in a large company.

The results may surprise you.  In the first two years of their career, 43 percent of women aspired to be in top management. Conversely, only 34 percent of men aspired to do the same. Equally important, both genders were equally confident about their abilities to reach those top positions.

Two years later, the numbers changed, fairly dramatically.  Thirty-four percent of men with two or more years of experience still wanted to be in top-level management. The percentage of women, however, plummeted.  Only 16 percent of women with two or more years of experience still aspire to be in top-level management. Moreover, women’s confidence about reaching those management positions fell by 50 percent. Men’s confidence levels stayed the same.

Bain found that the declines in aspiration and confidence were independent of marriage and becoming a mother.

READ MORE  Published in Chicago Lawyer Volume 39 Number 1  January 2016 Professionalism on Point

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Michelle Silverthorn

Michelle Silverthorn

After spending seventeen years living in the Caribbean, Michelle undertook a number of around-the-world detours before ending up at the doorstep of the Commission, including four years as a general litigator in New York and Chicago. She remembers pretty much everyone she’s met in her travels but she would especially like to meet again the passengers on a January 2001 flight from Miami to JFK. At the pilot’s request, they donated enough money for Michelle, who had her wallet stolen, to get back to college safely. She would very much like to tell them all thanks.
Michelle Silverthorn

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