Maranda Moyer ’19 – Women in Leadership Participant
Take a moment and pause. Picture in your head a lawyer speaking in front of a court room. What did you see? Do you see a judge, a legal pad, a freshly ironed suit, and a strong confident lawyer? Now focus in on the lawyer, is it a man or a woman? Throughout United States history, many professional careers are still seen as roles needed to be filled by men. These careers are commonly ones in politics, business, sports, media, science, and law. Gender equality in the work force is slowly evolving as women are achieving careers in various fields, but have yet to reach a point where women can be content.
Law is the complex and intricate backbone to the United States, requiring inputs from both men and women. The American Bar Association is dedicated to improving the law profession, eliminating bias and enhancing diversity, and advancing the rule of law. Each year the American Bar Association collects information regarding the demographics of licensed lawyers. The 2015 National Lawyer Population Survey discovered that 52.2% of students enrolled in law school are men and 47.8% are women. This statistic is empowering due to the fact that women are perusing advanced education, fairly equally, in order to obtain professional careers. Despite this great advance, the American Bar Association also found in the same 2015 study that 67% of practicing lawyers are men, and 33% are women. This is a 34% gap, as men make up a majority of lawyers in the United States. As an aspiring lawyer, this is disheartening as it brings up questions as to why these qualified women are being cut short of acquiring jobs as lawyers. Sadly, the answer goes back to the opinion that men are more suited for these types of professional careers. The solution to this problem is to increase exposure of women in law to society.
One program dedicated to providing college boys and girls with experience in the courtroom, is the American Mock Trial Association. AMTA creates a case each year and creates affidavits and evidence that will have to be deciphered in order to prove an innocent or guilty sentence. Colleges then form teams assigning witness and lawyer roles. The college teams then compete against each other at competitions in different regions of the United States. AMTA is beneficial for all students planning on attending law school, and desire a career as an attorney. This includes women and allows them to gain experience in a courtroom and compete with men. AMTA also allows men and women to gain public speaking skills and increase their confidence. I was fortunate enough to compete and represent Gettysburg College in the 2016 AMTA regional competition in Baltimore, Maryland on February 26th and 27th. I was exposed to court etiquette and real life interactions between a judge and a lawyer. Programs like AMTA provide women with the chance to exhibit that they obtain the same skills as men, and can successfully compete in a typical “male” environment.
In order for women to be hired in these professional settings, their abilities need to be exposed as equal to that of man’s. Women experience gender inequality in many work fields, law being one. These inequalities only motivate women to break down these barbaric ideas and to prove themselves to society. We are not okay with a 34% gap. However, a change requires women gaining skills and confidence through programs like the American Mock Trial Association. Women will continue to advance and dissolve societal barriers, in order to achieve true gender equality. In the words of Hillary Clinton “Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you [women], it’s got about 18 million cracks in it.”