Friday, October 28, 2011

Women Don't Like Working for Female Partners?

Women Don’t Like Working for Female Partners?


A female law professor in Chicago surveyed 142 legal secretaries (almost all of them women) at larger law firms and asked them if they preferred working for male partners, female partners, male associates, or female associates. Not a single one preferred working for a female partner. Not one!

Disclaimer: ladies, please don’t shoot the messenger here – I am only reporting what this survey found!

Most of the legal secretaries polled in this 2009 online survey were middle aged and had significant professional experience. Some of the reasons they gave for not wanting to work for female partners:

  • Female partners are passive / aggressive.

  • Female partners make it emotional / personal but males don’t.

  • Female partners are less flexible.

  • Female partners may tend to be demeaning.

  • They are “such a pain in the ass!”

  • They are either too mean or too nice/too emotional and can’t handle the stress. “Either way, their attitude/lack of maturity somehow involves you being a punching bag.”*

*A female attorney once told me “You have to be a bitch; if you’re nice, they walk all over you.”

As time goes by, it has become more generally recognized that women in higher level, demanding positions can face more challenges than their male counterparts for many reasons, often involving societal expectations and the challenge of establishing an acceptable work / life / family balance.

The medium sized firm I was previously a partner in had one of the best diversity rates in the state; we had an almost equal number of male and female partners. Legal support staff members seemed to prefer working for the male partners, and I did hear comments similar to the ones reported by this survey.

 McGrath & Spielberger, PLLC provides legal services in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. We are happy to work with clients of all genders.