Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History

At the July 2014 Annual Meeting Awards luncheon, NAWL’s new president Lisa Passante’s closing remarks really hit the nail on the head. Below is a snippet from her remarks:

When I thought about what I would say today, knowing I would be following such an impressive line up of speakers, I knew I would need to dig very deep for something profound to say. For some reason what kept coming to me was my favorite tee shirt slogan, which is: “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History”. …

It has always seemed to me that despite our pop culture image, most lawyers, and most women lawyers, including me, are extremely well behaved. We thrive on precedent. But our precedent at the moment is that despite being nearly half of all law school graduates for over a generation, women still lag dramatically in terms of pay and leadership roles in our organizations. This will be the year our profession will not meet the NAWL challenge, which as you heard earlier was that by 2015 women would comprise 30% of law firm equity partners, 30% of Fortune 500 general counsel, and 30% of tenured law school faculty-we are not even close when it comes to equity partners.

So what are we going to do to change the pace of progress? One recent study found that at the present rate, women will not reach parity with men in leadership roles until 2085. Most of us won’t be here to see that, and I don’t find that acceptable.

I believe many of the things we and other like-minded organizations are doing are the right things-raising consciousness, skills development, leadership development, networking, and research. But if well-behaved means that women continue to do all the right things that we do, hoping that we inch toward equality in 2085, maybe we need to be a little less well behaved in how we go about it.

To read her entire speech go to:

National Association of Women Lawyers: President’s Message

All we have to say to Lisa is, “You go girl. We are right there with you!”

, , ,

Related Posts

Leave a Reply