Women in the Law

Are Premature Work-Life Balance Concerns Sabotaging Women Lawyers' Careers?

Facebook’s chief operating officer has raised a work-life balance issue that could apply equally to women lawyers.

Sheryl Sandberg spoke about three reasons women aren’t making it into top leadership positions, the Careerist blog reports. The three reasons:

1) Women literally don’t take a seat at the conference table. Too often they sit on the sidelines and feel they don’t deserve to be in a prominent place. Women systematically underestimate their own abilities, and they don’t negotiate for themselves in the workplace.

2) Women take on more than their share of housework and child care.

3) Women sabotage their careers by giving up challenging work due to premature work-life balance concerns. Sandberg told of a woman in her office who expressed concerns about juggling work and babies—even though she had no children and no husband or boyfriend. Women should not give up a promotion or good assignments too far in advance, she said.

The Careerist writes that the third point “really stopped me in my tracks.”

“Are young women in law as anxious about balancing work and family as that woman in Sandberg’s office?” the Careerist writes. “I think so. In the 10 years that I’ve been covering women in the law, I’ve noticed an increasing concern (maybe obsession) about the issue. This comes not only from associates but also law students. …

“Maybe it’s a generational shift. When I was a law student in the ’80s, the women in my class were preoccupied about landing the most prestigious, highest-paying job they could get.”

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