(This post was edited on October 27, 2021 by butterpecan1989)
I want to be a lawyer. I always say it with pride and commitment, and a part of me feels insanely accomplished just by that sentence. I took my LSAT (and got a fantastic score), I have my recommendation letters and personal statement ready, and I am ready to apply. But, (of course, there is always a but) I have a nagging voice in my head, being a lawyer in America is still a very MASCULINE job, and I identify as a cisgender woman. This desire to want to be a lawyer has allowed me to see how power has a role on two major job industries, to explore the patriarchal terms in society and to come to terms with going into a job that is male dominated.
Although I am examining lawyers and doctors through the lens of power, it is important to note these are not the only two industries where this happens. There are many systems of power in all different kinds of jobs. However, my own experience with these two professions has allowed me to see the overarching ideas of power in society and how they are a feminist issue.
As of 2020, only 37.4% of lawyers are women. That is a scary percentage for women going into this field. I have never felt the oppression of being a female lawyer (not yet at least) because I am still an undergraduate, but I certainly have heard stories of women who have.
On October 4, 2021, rachel___diane posted a Tik Tok where she mentioned she went to 2 legal events that week. She then highlighted what was said to her despite her being a top lawyer at these events. Men said, “Are you one of the attorney’s wives?”, “Sorry I wasn’t listening to cause, my god, you’re great to look at.”, “If you go on a date with me, I’ll open doors for you.” She then mentions talking about her legal work and feels a man slide his hand up her thigh. She received an email from a man she gave her business card to at 1:15 in the morning that said, “wya? Let’s meet up.”
I have Tik Tok, and I just so happen to follow a bunch of badass women lawyers on there. Their stories are incredible, and they dive into the gender gap that they face every day. Follow these users if you don’t follow them right now: legalbaddie, christinastrat, rachel___diane, and carriejernigan. They are hilarious, witty, badass, and beautiful people that give viewers a small glimpse of what they go through as lawyers and law students.
This is not the first post where this Tik Toker has opened up about being a woman in a male-dominated job field…and that scares me. I am openly and willingly stepping into a job field where my gender may oppress me. I can say I am privileged enough to have never felt oppressed in school or at my places of work. Being this privileged and hearing these stories from women in the law field is concerning. It makes me question, “will that happen to me?” and “does it happen a lot.”
To find out, I looked for a personal reference from my sister. She and her fiancé are doctors, and they are both cisgender women. Doing research, I found that around 40% of doctors are women, but it does vary by specialty. So, I asked them straight up, “is it hard to be a woman in a field that is predominantly male?” The response I got was astounding.
They told me, yes there is a gender difference in our hospital , but many times you do not even notice it is hard. After being in the field for a year, they looked at what they did differently (than the male doctors) while talking with different genders and patients. While discussing treatment with male doctors, they told me they are more firm and often speak louder to assert any power they can. They even have had to walk away from a conversation to cool down. But what surprised me the most was when they told me how patients have and still react to female doctors. While shadowing male doctors, they said patients rarely questioned their procedural requirements or propositions. But now that they are their own, they get asked all the time. My sister said something that stuck with me; she said, “It is because I am a woman in power; it is just what I have to do. It is just another day at work.”
Looking through the lens of my own personal experiences, it made me realize I will be a woman in power one day. I will face different situations where my gender and sex may or may not make a difference. Yes, it is scary, but it is also empowering. Being a minority gender to men, I can speak for the oppressed more than the dominant gender identity can. This feeling of being scared can fuel me to remember that I am a woman in power. I will have the opportunity to change as a lawyer, similar to how my sister does as a doctor. These realizations made me see the bigger picture- there are systems at play in society that affect women in the job market every. single. day. It is now more than ever when we need to examine our own experiences to see how imperative it is for equality in the job market.