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A Conversation with Trailblazing Women

posted by Lois R. Lupica

Yesterday, I attended the International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederal (IWIRC) Annual Spring Program. The featured event was entitlted, "A Conversation with Trailblazing Women in the Insolvency Field." Moderated by the Hon. Marjorie Rendell of the 3rd Cir. Court of Appeals, the panel's participants incuded Norma Corio of JPMorgan Chase, Marcia Goldstein of Weil Gotshal & Manges, Hon. Barbara Houser, Chief Bankruptcy Judge, N.D. Texas, Hon. Mary Walrath, Bankruptcy Judge, District of Delaware, and Bettina Whyte of Alvarez and Marsal. The program opened with a parable. A man cuts himself shaving in the shower. He wonders out loud what is wrong with the razor. A woman cuts herself shaving in the shower. She wonders out loud what she did wrong. 

The conversation was in turn funny, inspiring, and sobering. Many of the panelists admitted to "falling into" or "being drafted into" the bankruptcy/insolvency field, and characterized "positive problem solving skills" as their most valuable professional asset. There was a great deal of attention paid to the importance of mentoring - both having one and being one. Having someone in your life who views your success as a measure of his or her success; a trusted person who values difficult and honest feedback. 

The discussion continued, touching on the importance of professional risk-taking, listening skills, trust building with clients and colleagues, and just "being at the table." As one of the panelists noted, "this profession has very few soft edges." Reflecting upon the vexing issue of "work-life balance," it was wryly observed, "there is no balance sometimes." 

None of this is new news. But nonetheless, these type of conversations continue to be important to have.

Comments

Whenever I read about "Women in ..." forums, I am always struck by the fact that the subjects discussed are as applicable to men as they are women.

I assume the large disinterest in the subject by men is because they don't have this problem. Many of the men I went to law school with seemed to think they would eventually have a wife at home who didn't work, or who only worked part-time, and thus would cover nearly all the childcare while the men strode toward making partner. I know because they held forth at great length on the subject of vile working women during courses in family law, bankruptcy, and the like. And I graduated 11 years ago, so this wasn't the dark ages (only seemed that way).

Given the large number of women who have difficulty with work-life balance, if even a small amount of men joined them in trying to make workplaces better, they would be.

Rest assured, times are changing. I recently saw a study showing that among people under 30 from larger ciites, women now make a lot more than their male counterparts.
http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2015274,00.html.
It'll be interesting to see how this affects marraiges and families. As a woman who was rasied by a dad and is now the main breadwinner in my own family, I am thinking this could be good.

Thanks for all the great posts, Lois. We were lucky to have you.

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