According to the ABA, the number of women in the legal field has only been increased 5% (now at 35%) in the past ten years. While women make up about 45% of associates in private practice, only 20% of partners are women. Active minority attorneys represent approximately 11%, with little growth over the past ten years. More women are moving into positions of authority and leadership, but though it’s improving, progress is often slow and uneven.
—Beth Sher, partner at Day Pitney.
NITA’s role: Continue to champion women participants and faculty. Representation is the first step to creating gender equality. When people see women in positions of authority or leadership, it normalizes that role and creates aspiration of achieving the same. Having women champion other women and teach other women creates an attitude and belief that anything is possible.
Most women struggle more with confidence than men, maybe because of gender stereotypes and maybe because of true lack of experience—or we just don’t fake it as well as our male counterparts. Women tend to be quieter, more deferential, more conciliatory. This works well in some settings, but not in depositions or trials. We know there are differences—some real, some perceived—in how men and women handle conflict, stress, emotions, etc.
—Annie Deets, Dekalb County Public Defender.
NITA’s role: NITA programs provide a safe, supportive, and challenging environment to help level the playing field in terms of confidence and experience. NITA program participants gain confidence through multiple opportunities at learning by doing. By immersing themselves in the subject matter, participants grow exponentially in a short time. This is done is a safe environment, encouraging participants to build self-assurance and poise.
Women helping other women:
From infancy, when we “learn to learn,” we emulate the role models presented to us (parents, teachers, etc.). When women see women in positions of authority or leadership, it creates aspiration of achieving the same. Having women champion other women and teach other women fosters an attitude and belief that anything is possible.
—Madeleine Albright, the former Secretary of State
NITA’s role: NITA offers lawyers the chance to find a voice and style that works for them among very different voices.
-NITA faculty Terre Rushton
We move forward by reaching back, giving a helping hand to the women who come after us. Within living memory, we have gone from law firms without a single female associate to almost half the associate positions being filled by women. Now our goal must be to bring that kind of equality to partnerships, and minorities. One way to break through to this diversity is for women to help other women become their best, most confident professional selves.
NITA has been doing just that since 1971—helping women lawyers gain confidence and find their brave to be successful, and equally important, making inroads that other women can follow. And women who NITA has helped move forward are still with us, reaching back to guide the way for the next generation of women.