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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Time Has Come to Change the Discussion Around Women’s Issues


By Patricia Gillette, Co-Chair, BASF’s Equality Sub-Committee on Women

When someone says “women’s issues,” what are the first things that come to mind? Part-time policies, flexible work arrangements, and mentoring. Why? Because that is the pigeonhole in which women in the legal industry find themselves after years of fighting for these basic rights.

Are those rights important? Of course they are. But during a June MCLE program entitled, “Flying the Coop on the Wings of Economic and Institutional Power,” I noted that the narrow box of women’s issues, has left some male colleagues with the impression that women don’t care about the business issues associated with running a firm or a company. As a result, rainmaking, advancement, leadership positions, and compensation have become associated more with men than women.

Time has come to change the discussion around “women’s issues.” I encourage women to expand the discussion of what women care about to include moving into roles of influence and power in their firms
and corporations.

The MCLE program, now available as an on-demand video, discussed strategies and challenges facing women (and men) who want to level the playing field in the legal industry by getting more women into positions of power. The reason to do so? Simple. With that kind of power comes the ability to make change and ensure that women, and men, have viable part-time policies, flexible working arrangements and mentoring for success and that law firms and corporations are run with everyone’s interests in mind.


Patricia Gillette is a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and a member of its Employment Law Group.

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