What does it mean to support women? To truly, openly listen to women? To integrate women’s perspectives into the broader dialogue, diversifying the messages that flow from those conversations? And do the answers to those questions change when we’re talking about women in the law?
These are some of the topics we covered last week as Goulston & Storrs hosted 100 guests for Claim Your Space, a New York Women’s Event. Held in the future location of the firm’s New York office, we were joined by colleagues (women and a good number of men!), clients, contacts, and friends as we explored how to tackle the nuances of women’s career advancement, difficult bosses, self-doubt that stands in the way of progress, and what building a network can look like (with or without LinkedIn).
I had the honor of moderating a panel with five fiercely talented women – Arian June (Debevoise & Plimpton), Jennifer Furey (Goulston & Storrs), Courtenay O’Connor (Squarespace), Amanda Appelbaum (Stellex Capital Partners), and Jennifer Chung (Verizon) – who each shared her unique perspective on how developing careers as women in the law has been full of obstacles, accomplishments, and lessons learned. We discussed the importance of supporting yourself so that you can support the women around you; how saying yes to opportunities that at first glance seem out of line with career goals may be one of the best ways to enhance your career prospects and network; what it feels like to share ideas without qualification or the tinge of doubt that too often infiltrates women’s suggestions in the workplace; and the need to recognize that it’s more likely than not that the woman over there has felt the same fear as you at some point in her career and lived to tell the tale. The evening highlighted that, regardless of gender, listening to women elaborate on their career experiences enhances all of our views on collaboration, boundaries, and the need to amplify the voices of women so that we are all heard more clearly.
2022 has been more difficult than most to be a woman in this country, a feeling amplified by my inescapably Esq. understanding of the laws that have changed and those that likely will soon, of the consequences already felt and those still unknown. For many of us, navigating this new landscape has felt overwhelming on the best day. But alongside these difficult feelings I have witnessed a new urgency to engage in discussions that ask all of us – men and women, peers and partners, clients and colleagues – whether it’s possible to recontextualize our understanding of opportunity. Can we reconsider established concepts of how women can elevate conversations even as many women feel as though they are sitting in a new environment without much appreciation for the best ways to navigate forward? Our gathering last week demonstrated that such a reimagining may already be happening.