I read a recent article in the ABA Journal by Susan Blakey, “Are women lawyers paying enough attention to upward mobility?” This article brought me back to the time when I started my professional life and believed I had to choose between a career and a family. It was a period of disillusionment for me as an attorney and young mother. I had hoped we as a profession had moved long past those antiquated notions where women were penalized for having children.
I went to college and law school in the late 1980s when women were making serious strides to equality—Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed as the first female Supreme Court justice and Sally Ride was the first woman in space. I entered my career with the belief that anything was possible. I still remember the iconic commercial for Enjoli Perfume, “I can bring home the bacon, and fry it up in the pan.” Alright, I didn’t remember what product the jingle was selling, I remembered the jingle and then had to Google for the details. And of course, the rest of the jingle isn’t appropriate or relevant to this article, but it describes the mindset. Starting my career, riding that ‘80s and ‘90s feminist wave, I thought women working and succeeding in careers that they wanted was attainable. As an over-achiever from an early age, and a first-generation college graduate and law school graduate, I was confident that I “could have it all” provided I worked hard enough.