Thursday, May 28, 2009

"American women are wealthier, healthier and better educated than they were 30 years ago...But all the achievements of the feminist era may have delivered women to greater unhappiness."

I tend to agree with the latter argument of rising expectations bumping the glass ceiling, but I'm open to other ideas.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sotomayor nominated to be third female justice on U.S.Supreme Court

Read here the New York Times coverage of this remarkable woman, who would be the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A British spin on marital property (and division of same)

Here's a fascinating story about a British family lawyer, Raymond Tooth, who represents mostly the non-working (and soon-to-be-former) wives of wealthy men--and who does so quite successfully. Here is an interesting excerpt:

When it comes to defending the core principle of his mostly female clientele — that each spouse has an equal right to either’s wealth — he never lets go.

“It is quite clear that a partnership between a husband and wife is a partnership of equals,” he said.

Clear enough for Mr. Tooth and the spouses he champions, perhaps, but not always for their former partners.

Mr. Tooth works in a world where men, extremely wealthy financiers or world-famous celebrities, often earn the fortunes.

Even more interesting anecdotes are also featured in the story.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Death in birth: The shortcomings of maternal health care in the developing world

Read the feature story by Denise Grady in today's New York Times. According to the World Health Organization 536,000 deaths a year are attributable to pregnancy and child birth, about half of those in Africa. Grady explains some of the reasons:
Most of the deaths are preventable, with basic obstetrical care. Tanzania, with roughly 13,000 deaths annually, has neither the best nor the worst record in Africa. Although it is politically stable, it is also one of the world’s poorest countries, suffering from almost every problem that contributes to high maternal death rates — shortages of doctors, nurses, drugs, equipment, roads and transportation.
Grady reports that the United Nations in 2000 set the goal of reducing maternal deaths by 75% over the next 15 years. But with 2015 just six years away, few countries are expected to reach the target. One Tanzanian obstetrician is quoted as asking, “Why don’t we have a global fund for maternal health, like the one for TB, malaria and AIDS?”

Why, indeed? And why aren't countries doing more given that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) specifically addresses the health care needs of women and requires action from member states?

A profile of Jennifer Granholm, on the short list for the U.S.S.Ct.

Read Susan Saulny's NYT profile of the Michigan Governor here. I like this excerpt in particular about the early days of Jennifer Granholm's tenure as Michigan's Attorney General:

It was 1999, and the state was controlled by Republicans. The Legislature sought to fast-track a measure that would have stripped her office of core powers, including the right to sue the state, represent individuals and have official opinions carry the force of law.

But Ms. Granholm, 40 at the time and a political neophyte in her first statewide role, came out swinging with unexpected gusto and beat back the challenge in arguments with the lawmakers.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Here's to women "over-40," whatever their profession

Read this story from the New York Times about "grown-up" women on Broadway.

A profile of Justice Leah Ward Sears

Read this profile by Shaila Dewan in the New York Times of Chief Justice Sears of the Georgia Supreme Court. It focuses on Justice Sears' many firsts, including being the first black cheerleader at her Savannah, Georgia high school and the first black woman chief justice on a state supreme court.

I also note with particular interest these comments, which reflect Sears' views on marriage and family:
Chief Justice Sears speaks frequently about marriage, saying that divorce and custody cases make up an increasingly large share of caseloads and that children suffer when they are raised out of wedlock.

“As a judge, I am often frustrated that I must work within a system designed only to pick up the pieces after families have already fallen apart or failed to come together,” she wrote in an opinion article in The Washington Post.
I also note recent news accounts that President Obama has interviewed Judge Diane P. Wood of the 7th Circuit, who has long been considered a strong contender for a Supreme Court seat under a Democratic administration. (This story also features a great photo of former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor next to Elena Kagan, former dean of Harvard Law, now Solicitor General of the United States, and also on the short list for the U.S. Supreme Court).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Some tips for women about courtroom attire: "lose the Ally McBeal look"

Read the ABA Journal item by Debra Cassens Weiss here.

An excerpt with quotes from several judges follows. Note that Judge Lefkow is female:

Judge Michael McCuskey, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, ... raise[d] another concern. Some women come to court wearing "skirts so short that there's no way they can sit down and blouses so short there's no way the judges wouldn't look," he said.

After laughter erupted, Bankruptcy Judge Benjamin Goldgar of Chicago offered that the matter needs to be addressed because it is “a huge problem.” He said sometimes he wishes he could tell the female lawyer before him, "I'd really like to pay attention to your argument."

* * *

Lefkow, described in the article as “a smart dresser à la Brooks Brothers,” had a different bit of advice. She said women lawyers should take a look at the fashion blog Corporette. Recent blog posts highlighted “a lovely Albert Nipon pique dress and jacket, currently on sale at Neiman Marcus” and the great debate over ponytails at the office.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Women leaders around the world ...

Read the recent news out of India, Lithuania, and Kuwait.

And here's the latest from Hillary, too!

Bad news from U.S.S.Ct. on pregnancy and pensions

Read Adam Liptak's New York Times story about the ruling here. An excerpt follows:
Employers need not give women credit for some pregnancy leaves in calculating their pension benefits when they retire, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a 7-to-2 decision.
* * *

The question in the case decided Monday, AT&T v. Hulteen, No. 07-543, was what should happen when companies calculate pension and similar benefits when women retire decades after taking such pregnancy leaves.

In an opinion by Justice David H. Souter, the court said the four women were not entitled to full credit for their leaves and so will receive smaller pensions.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Women Bullying Women at Work

That was the headline in the New York Times for this recent story by Mickey Meece. The item, which was on the 10 most emailed stories for a few days, reports that 40% of workplace bullies are women. Here's an excerpt:
And at least the male bullies take an egalitarian approach, mowing down men and women pretty much in equal measure. The women appear to prefer their own kind, choosing other women as targets more than 70 percent of the time.

In the name of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, what is going on here?
Read more here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Appreance matters redux

I wrote about this topic months ago, and it popped up again this week in this headline in the New York Times Sunday Styles section, "Yes, Looks do Matter."

Friday, May 1, 2009

And the next Madam Justice will be ....

Have women really come as far in the legal profession as this article suggests? Read Charlie Savage's speculation in the New York Times about who might fill the Souter chair ...

Here's an excerpt:

More than 200 women are federal district and appeals court judges, representing about a quarter of each bench, according to statistics compiled in 2008 by the American Bar Association. More than a hundred women are judges on top state courts, and a third of state chief justices are women.

In a country where nearly 1.2 million people are practicing lawyers, more than 45 percent of law firm associates — and 18 percent of partners — are women. Nearly a fifth of the nation’s law school deans are women, as were nearly 48 percent of the most recent class of law school graduates.