My name is Amanda and I am an investigator for a law firm. I heard from a co-workers that I was hired because I was a woman and the company was trying to fill a quota. My law firm is predominately male. The women have largely administrative positions in the firm. I know that I can do an exceptional job, but I am restricted to less important cases, while the male investigator handles more serious cases. I will never get the opportunity to shine, if I am not given the chance. How can I make the male attorneys that I work with view me as an investigator and not as a woman?
Investigator Amanda from Oregon
Assuming the rumors are true of the reasons for your hire, you have to create a stronger persona as well as a stronger personal constitution. Although women have made great strides to be a force to be reckoned with, they still earn about 80 cents to a man's one dollar. In a patriarchal society where the rules are still skewed towards the aspirations of men, changing minds is an arduous task. To compete, you have to create rules counter to the status quo. You have to first ask yourself, "Do I want to be popular or do I want to be effective." In a Machiavellian sense, you should be looking for respect over being loved. Frederick Douglass once said "Power concedes only to power, always did and always will."
During these recessionary times, attorneys (male and female) are losing jobs within firms based on cut backs and downsizing. The fact that you were hired is a testimony to your competence for the position. To change your dynamics in the firm, I recommend you:
• Address your concerns to the partner-in-charge couching your concerns with specific examples of malfeasance and stressing the importance of getting the most out of you based on their investment.
• Make recommendations to your counterpart about designating assignments. If you have a specific specialty or interest, state what areas of investigation you feel you bring the most value. Appealing to one's sense of reason based on what's best for the firm can be a compelling argument. Any company or firm with a profit motive should look favorable at that line of thinking.
• Act like a partner within any endeavor. If you have valuable skill sets within the field of law, they are marketable throughout the profession. By keeping your options and lines of communication open, you are not at the behest of any one entity. Remember the world only respects strength and power. You don't get out of life what you deserve, you get out of life what you can command.
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