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.
As of 2020 (statisa.com), 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.
“Sorry I wasn’t listening cause my god you’re great to look at.”– rachel___diane
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.
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, “way? Let’s meet up.”
This is not the first post where she 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. Looking at statistics, 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.
“Are you one of the attorney’s wives?”,– rachel___diane
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 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.”
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.