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Name Confusion

I have known men to have names which generate confusion. One of the
senior attorneys in my firm, a man named Leslie Stellman, has often
been confused, sight unseen, for a woman. This means that when applying
in 1968 to the Johns Hopkins University, he was informed that as a
female, he was ineligible for admission. Only after he sent in a photo
did the admissions people allow him entry into the university. Imbued
with a passion for gender equality, he became an employment attorney
and spent the past 30 years educating employers about the evils (not to
mention the costs) of sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

Over the past several months, the two attorneys with androgynous names
have been having a running discussion about men. We both have decided
that there are too many men in positions of power and authority who, in
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski\’s words after the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas
hearings, “just don\’t get it.”

Last year, academia was treated to the furor caused by Harvard
President Lawrence Summers\’ uncomfortable observations as to why he
felt that few women excel in mathematics and science.

Recently, The New York Times reported the resignation of Neil French as
worldwide creative director of one of the world\’s largest advertising
agencies because of public comments that women “don\’t make it to the
top” in the advertising industry “because they don\’t deserve to.” He
said their roles as caregivers and child bearers prevented them from
succeeding in top positions.

It is astounding that educated and sophisticated men still hold
antiquated, stereotypical views of women. In this 21st century,
apparently too many men still don\’t get it. They don\’t recognize that
women have broken through the glass ceiling in so many businesses,
while they managed households and raised children. Women now hold more
than 11 percent of top executive positions in America\’s Fortune 100
companies, and their ranks are growing. The number of women in law and
medical schools in this country exceeds the number of men, and with
their enormous purchasing power, women drive our economy.

Female business leaders have made a huge difference in the culture of
our largest corporations. They are being actively recruited and rising
successfully through the ranks, all the while juggling family, children
and career in a manner that would make most men\’s heads spin.

The reality of business and the accomplishments of women have gone
unrecognized by many. There are too many men, and some women, who still
do not “get it”. They think that men are more qualified, brighter, or
more aggressive. They think that men, but not women, are naturally
gifted in science and math. Women, as a group and as individuals, need
to speak up when comments restricting them to certain jobs or denying
them their rightful place are made. Hopefully, there will be a time
when it does not matter whether a person such as myself is known as
“Pat” or “Patricia” or whether a person named “Leslie” is a man or a

Ms. Lambert rose to national prominence as a litigator with a focus on insurance law in an age when there were few women litigators, particularly in the area of insurance law. Ms. Lambert has spent the last twenty years developing what is now recognized as one of the largest insurance practices in the state of Maryland. She lectures nationally, has received a gubernatorial appointment in the field of insurance, and is sought for her advice by Fortune 500 companies.

Posted in:
Women's Law Issues
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