Gender Equality in Law Schools
By Julieta Noriega – Greenberg Traurig
Mexico City, Mexico
June 10, 2018
Last month in Mexico City, ALA chapter Mexico had their second forum “Transforming the legal sector in Mexico – reality and development”. The whole purpose of this event was to present ALA to the principal law firms in Mexico; the chapter designed a program divided in 3 panels: the first one was directed by the Managing Shareholders of six of the most important firms in Mexico and they were speaking about the new challenges in the market. The second panel was directed by clients (Legal directors, CFO´s, etc.) who were discussing what they were expecting from the Law firms in these days.
But the last panel was interesting, since it was directed by the deans of the top Universities in Mexico, and even when their original topic was Professional development, they quickly moved to Gender equality in Law schools. For starters they were sorry because there were no women in the panels (not even one); then they start talking about the efforts that each of them is having in order to close the gap between the genders in the classrooms. Jorge Arturo Cerdio, dean of the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), told that he was aware that 10 years ago most of the women that were looking for a Law school, were afraid to enter into his school because it was too manly, not gender friendly and they were feeling unsecure and even bullied all the time. -“We changed that in the last 5 years, we are now more friendly, and we are looking to attract more women to our classrooms. Women are the future for the legal market. We need to prepare the future Partners”- he said.
Oscar de los Reyes, dean from the Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey (ITESM), explained that they have different groups of students dedicated to diversity and gender equality; they have meetings to plan their own activities and events (supported by the school, of course).
The rest of the deans shared their own policies on campus and the way they are changing the classrooms: hiring more women as teachers and directors; creating programs of diversity and inclusion; bringing diverse teachers and students to the school, etc.
At the end, they all agreed in something: there is still a long way to walk in matter of gender equality in the legal sector. And what is more important, it is even harder for a woman attorney outside of the school, working on the Law firms. The career path for a woman is more complicated than it is for a man; the Law Firms usually promote quicker the men, since they assume that the women attorneys will get eventually married and leave the firm to take care of their families.
This kind of unconscious bias needs to be changed from the root, starting on the Law schools, but then moving along to the Law Firms, creating a fresh and diverse view on the younger attorneys that will be leading the Firms on the future.