Monday, May 25, 2015

Women and the World In the Year 2112

It is amazing what women have accomplished in the last century.  Presidents 57, 58, 82, 82, 84, and 90 have all been women.  Our first African-American president was Barak Obama in 2008.  Since then, our presidents have been both men and women and have been from so many different ethnic and racial backgrounds.  The same is true for most of the industrialized countries in the world.

Mo'Ne Davis had a wonderful career as a Major League pitcher.  She won the Cy Young award in 2025, 26, and 27.  She after her retirement, she was a pitching coach for the Mets in New York. Shondra Miller became the first place kicker in the NFL.  Of course, Davis and Miller opened the flood gates of female participation in formerly male dominated sports.  It wasn't until 2037, after Amanda Fincham became president of the Major League Baseball Union, that female athletes finally earned the same salary as their male counterparts.

Finally, the Cleveland Indians changed their name to the Cleveland Clodhoppers, while the Kansas City Chiefs became the Kansas City Monarchs, as an homage to the best Negro League team in baseball.

it's hard to believe that women only earned 76 cents for every dollar earned by a man in 2015.  Currently, in 2112, women out-earn men by 5 cents on the dollar.  The salary advantage given to women is attributed to the female ability to work better in teams, their willingness to do any work, their organization skills and the way they have incorporated both family and work life efficiently.  Since 2084, men have increasingly taken over child-rearing and housekeeping chores and sociologists and psychologists report an increase in parental and child wellbeing.  In fact, society could not be operating more efficiently.

Since the seminal Harvard/Smith collaborative study on effective leadership, showing that traditional female traits of cooperation, nurturing and willingness to take on all tasks regardless of whether it was formally considered "menial," women have headed most multi-national corporations.  Those women who pioneered running large corporations, while being tentative at first, developed a business model that rewarded patience, kindness and recognition of hard work, thereby increasing productivity of businesses in general.

President L'Tonya Johnson's last State of the Union address spoke of an increase in empathy and cooperation between businesses and nations.  With the downturn in crime and war, and the upturn in the economies of the world, hunger and poverty have been almost eliminated.

However, discrimination is still a problem.  The old discrimination laws are most commonly applied to anti-male sentiments in both industry and international relations.  President Johnson hopes to eliminate anti-male discrimination during her term.  While men have started all wars throughout history, President Johnson and other world leaders believe that, through concerted global policy, male aggression can be contained.  Through research and study, gun laws have been radically changed throughout the last century, lawmakers are experimenting with allowing qualified women to own handguns for protection.  Congress is concerned about returning to the violent crime rates of the 21st Century.  This issue is hotly debated and it will be interesting to see what happens.

Since lawmakers made college educations available to all, the trend of women comprising most college graduates continues.  Congress and lawmakers in general are considering both financial and other incentives so that more males will pursue college and even post-graduate educations.  Since the marked reduction of defense spending across the world, lawmakers hope that males will again seek jobs in science and math.  Since the early 22nd Century, when teacher training to encourage girls in the sciences became such an overwhelming success, teachers realize they must redouble their efforts to keep boys interested in science and math, and not just in homemaking and cooking.

Professors Eliza Schmidt and Andorra Schickenheim successfully eliminated 98% of climate change and the world is on track to be human-climate-change free for the next millennium.  The anti-nuclear weapon research of Professor Melanie Smithson and Yura Mengovi revolutionized world fear of annihilation.  All countries of the world voluntarily destroyed all of their nuclear weapons and vowed to refrain from producing any more weapons of mass destruction.

Things have changed so much in the last 100 years, it will be interesting to see what happens in the next century.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Paid Maternity and/or Paternity Leave

I am a civil rights lawyer and a small business owner. I struggle with the issue of paid maternity and paternity leave. I have no doubt that paid leave would benefit families, mother's, fathers and children. The selfish problem I have centers on who would be required to pay for this leave. I assume that employers would be required to offer paid time for childbirth or adoption. When you have a small business, like mine, having to pay an employee for up to a year with no concomitant work performed by that employee would be a burden.

Yet, I know how important leave to care for a new-born is. I raised two children. When I gave birth to the first child, my son, I was employed by the federal government. I carefully planned to take three months off work, using my sick leave and vacation. After I had been off work for only six weeks, my boss tried to force me to return to work. I resorted to getting a physician's excuse so that I could complete the meager 3 months at home with my son. After I returned to work, I successfully lobbied to reduce my workweek to 4 days at 80% of my former pay. Within two years, I was gone, enrolled in law school.

When I gave birth to my daughter, I was a young, self-employed lawyer. I brought my baby with me to the office and she napped swaddled on my office floor. I did stay away from work for around 3 months, obviously with no pay. I kept my daughter with me as much as possible. Being a sole proprietor has its advantages.

We still hear about parents' dilemma when having a family.  As a society, we are well-served by providing to both mother's and fathers Leave from work to care for their newborn babies. I think many business requirements for professionals with children are barbaric. We should not require parents to sacrifice their children in order to succeed in business.

But, who should pay for this paid leave for new parents?  Most large companies may be able to provide paid parental leave up to a year with little economic detriment. But really small businesses, like mine, would struggle.

I know that America is a rarity because of the lack of mandated paid parental leave. We need to change this. But, in all of the other countries in the world, where paid parental leave exists, who is required to pay for the leave, the businesses or the taxpayers or both?  This is a societal issue. I think we need a societal solution.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Uncommon Courage - Witnesses With Nothing to Gain and Everything to Lose

When I started this blog, I wanted to write about many of the incredible people I have represented throughout the years, those souls willing to buck the status quo and stand up for the rights of themselves and others. Those clients demonstrate uncommon courage, hence the name of the blog. I have represented many amazing people and I have learned so much from these exceptional people. I have represented woman and men who were sexually harassed and decided not to take it.  I represented ordinary citizens discriminated against by management in large companies, small companies and the government. I have represented whistle-blowers, victims of racism, sexism and ageism, who had the courage to speak truth to power.

Through the years, I have witnessed others who demonstrate incredible courage, with no real reward. I hold these people in great esteem. This group is rare, the rarest of all, but also among the bravest. These are the witnesses who tell what they see and hear, even when they would be better served by lying or fudging or laying low.  These are co-workers, many still employed by the defendant, who do not put their own interest before the truth. It takes a great deal of courage to testify for another against one's employer. There is a tendency for witnesses to have memory lapses when questioned about situations in which their jobs are at stake. It is human nature to protect oneself and one's livelihood. I know this from personal experience. Yet, every now and again, a person puts the truth before self-interest and fights the very real urge to alter one's memory to help oneself. After enough time, many people, including me, can misremember facts and convince themselves that what is false is true. To those souls who maintain their integrity and refuse to waiver, you are amazing. I hope that if I find myself in a position where a lie helps me more than the truth, I can muster the courage to act as I have observed those brave witnesses act, with honesty and integrity.

I believe that this uncommon courage is borne from these witnesses ability to empathize. When a person can put himself in the shoes of another, compassion and courage are oftentimes the by-products. In fact, people's ability to empathisize with other humans is a foundation of our society and of our justice system. Empathy begats bravery.  I have seen it work.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

People - It's Okay to Express Emotions

My grandmother used to tell me that you could read my emotions by my looking at my face.  She told me within a few seconds of talking to me on the phone, she could tell what my mood was.  As a child and teenager, I loved that my grandmother could read me so easily.  It seemed to me that if people could read me, I was being true to how I felt.  It wasn't until I grew to adulthood, more specifically became a lawyer, that expressing emotions seemed weak.  More specifically, that expressing emotions as a female was weak.  

People are filled with emotions.  But, we feel that being stoic, or the strong, silent type is preferable than expressing sadness, anger, joy or any of the many emotions that people feel every day.  People, including me, do not like whiners and complainers, but that is not what I am talking about.  A few times in trial, when talking about what has happened to my clients, I have become choked up.  The emotions were real, and very limited.  Yet, in federal court, before a trial I was admonished to not cry.  I do not think of myself as a crybaby.  I feel I am honest with my emotions, but emotions are frowned upon in court.

Why are we so afraid of true emotions?  Macho men do not cry.  When a baseball player is hit in the side by a 96 mile per hour pitch, he had better not flinch.  If he does, we think he is weak. Plus, you know how women are, around that time of the month.  Totally emotional.  Whole families go through generation after generation without expressing love for one another.  It's common for families and friends and co-workers to prefer talking behind another's back rather than confronting someone with a perceived slight or misdeed.  

What kind of macho, stoic, confrontation avoiding society is this?  Why do we feel it's strong or brave to hide hurt, compassion, or love?  Do we all need to behave like Gary Cooper in "High Noon?"  I come from a family of strong, silent-type men.  They hate my emoting.  Is it excess testosterone?  

As a female lawyer, I worry about how juries will perceive me.  I am emotional.  That makes some people uncomfortable.  I am old enough to no longer care.  It's my party and I'll cry if I want to.  

I know that this blog post may make little sense to some.  It may not be the most articulate or well-reasoned piece, but I don't care.