Mannagement at Work. Answer the Case Questions

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The Law of Diminishing Motivation (400 words)

enrollment of women in U.S. law schools took off after 1970, and women
have been graduating at the same rate as men for more than 25 years.
Today, however, the census of American law firms still counts relatively
few women partners—typically, the veteran lawyers who are
joint owners and directors. Currently, for example, 32.4 percent of all
lawyers are women, yet only 19.2 percent of law firm partners are women.
Most female lawyers are associates—paid employees with the
prospect of becoming partners. Moreover, the further up the law-firm
ladder you look, the greater the disparity. According to the National
Association of Women Lawyers, 92 percent of all managing partners
(partners who run the business end of a firm) are men; men occupy 85
percent of the seats on the governing
committees that control a firm’s policies, and they hold 84 percent of
all equity partnerships (which come with ownership and profit sharing).
At this rate, women will achieve parity with their male colleagues in
approximately 2088.

what happens between the time women get job offers and the time firms
hand out partnerships and promotions? Bettina B. Plevan, an employment
law specialist and partner in the Manhattan firm of Proskauer Rose,
believes that, somewhere along the way, female lawyers lose the kind of
motivation necessary to get ahead in a law office. “You have a given
population of people,” she observes, “who were significantly motivated
to go through law school with a certain career goal in mind. What
de-motivates them,” she asks, “to want to continue working in the law?”

problem, says Karen M. Lockwood, a partner in the Washington, DC, firm
Howrey, is neither discrimination nor lack of opportunity. “Law firms,”
she says, “are way beyond discrimination. Problems with advancement and
retention are grounded in biases, not discrimination.” In part, these
biases issue from institutional inertia. Lauren Stiller Rikleen, a
partner in the Worcester, Massachusetts, firm of Bowditch & Dewey,
points out that most law firms are “running on an institutional model
that’s about 200 years old.” Most of them, she adds, “do a horrible job
of managing their personnel, in terms of training them and communicating
with them.” Such problems, of course, affect men as well as women, but
because of lingering preconceptions about women’s attitudes, values, and
goals, women bear the brunt of the workplace burden. In practical
terms, they face less adequate mentoring, poorer networking
opportunities, lower-grade case assignments, and unequal access to
positions of committee control.

all of these barriers to success, Lockwood adds the effect of what she
calls the “maternal wall”: Male partners, she says, assume that women
who return to the firm after having children will be less willing to
work hard and less capable of dedicating themselves to their jobs. As a
result, men get the choice assignments and senior positions. Jane
DiRenzo Pigott, a onetime law-firm partner who now owns a consultancy
firm, agrees but thinks the issues run deeper than maternity leave.
“People explain it simply as the fact that women have children,” she

but so many other factors play into it. Women self-promote in a different way than men, and because women dont
get their success acknowledged in the same way as men who more
aggressively self-promote, it creates a high level of professional
dissatisfaction for women. Saying these two words
I wantis not something women are used to doing. Theyre not saying,I want the top bonusorI want that position.” … [W]omen need to learn how to be comfortable sayingI wantand how to say it effectively.

fact remains that, according to a study of “Women in Law” conducted by
Catalyst, a New York research firm, one in eight female lawyers work
only part-time, compared to just one in fifty males. Why? According to
Plevan, most female attorneys would prefer to work and raise children at
the same time but find that they can’t do both effectively. “I
organized my personal life so I was able to move toward my goals,” she
says, but admits that it helped to have a gainfully employed spouse
(also a lawyer), dual incomes sufficient to hire household help, and
nearby relatives to pick up the slack in home–life responsibilities. In
most cases, of course, although dual incomes are an advantage to a
household, it’s difficult for either spouse to devote time to child
rearing when they’re both working. The Catalyst study shows that 44
percent of male lawyers have spouses who are employed full-time—and are
thus unavailable for such household duties as attending to children.
Among women, nearly twice as many—84 percent—have spouses with full-time

Like firms in many
other industries, law firms have experimented with such options as
flexible scheduling and parental leave. More and more, however, they
report that such measures have not been as effective as they’d hoped.
Says Edith R. Matthai, founder with her husband of the Los Angeles firm
Robie & Matthai, “We’re very accommodating with leaves and flexible
schedules, and even with that we still lose women…. [The] pressures on
women from spouses, family, peers, schools, and others is huge,” she
adds. The situation has improved over the last 30 years, but “we have a
long way to go…. I think the real solution is a reassessment of the role
that women play in the family. One thing we need is a sense of shared
responsibilities for the household and, most importantly, shared
responsibilities for taking care of the kids.”

Case Questions

  1. Among
    the various approaches to enhancing workplace satisfaction and
    productivity discussed in the chapter, which ones might you take under
    the circumstances described in the case? Why are some of the other approaches less likely to be effective (or even relevant)?