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Female lawyers –focus on what you can do, not what you can’t!

Having met a client to discuss a new vacancy I called a female lawyer to discuss the opportunity. The role had 5 requirements, she could tick 4. When it came to making a decision on making an application she focused on what she couldn’t do as opposed to what she could! I told her if she was a man she would most probably ‘think’ the other way around!!

This off the cuff comment made me think and look on-line. I found that my thinking was spot on..

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman are the authors of  The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know.

In 2011, the Institute of Leadership and Management, in the United Kingdom, surveyed British managers about how confident they feel in their professions. 50% of the female respondents reported self-doubt about their job performance and careers, compared with fewer than a third of male respondents. “In studies, men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both. Their performances do not differ in quality”.

The Washington State University psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger became involved with Hewlett-Packard when it was trying to figure out how to get more women into top management positions.

A review of personnel records found that women working at HP applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. “Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements. At HP, and in study after study, the data confirm what we instinctively know. Underqualified and underprepared men don’t think twice about going for promotion”. Women only applied for a promotion when they met 100 percent of the qualifications.
The articles that I found put the ‘issues’ down to two main areas: Confidence “…take the penchant many women have for assuming the blame when things go wrong, while crediting circumstance—or other people—for their successes. (Men seem to do the opposite.)”

And Perfectionism: “Study after study confirms that it is largely a female issue, one that extends through women’s entire lives. Women don’t answer questions until they are totally sure of the answer, they don’t submit a report until they’ve edited it ad nauseam, and women don’t sign up for that triathlon unless they know they are faster and fitter than is required”.

Of course the above is not in any way my experience with the majority of lawyers that I have the pleasure of assisting. In fact, having recently attended the 2015 Awards Ceremony for in-house lawyers based in the North West of England I can confirm that ALL the shortlisted nominees were female.

For more information, please contact Mark Levine at BCL Legal.

Comments (1)


Jonathan Carr

January 31, 2016 at 12:21 am

Excellent blog

We are experiencing similar challenges as we try to create a diverse capable leadership team

  • Jonathan Carr
    Posted January 31, 2016 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Excellent blog

    We are experiencing similar challenges as we try to create a diverse capable leadership team

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