Scroll Forward In Your Palm Pilots…

Where Do You Think You'll Be in Five Years? | CorporetteWhere do you think you’ll be in five years? TEN years? How do you think gender issues will affect your journey?

The NYT recently looked up some of the women profiled in a 2001 article, “Great Expectations” — in the original article, it interviewed new female associates at BigLaw firm Debevoise & Plimpton and asked,

Do the new female associates expect to see themselves making partner in greater numbers than their predecessors? Here, 17 of them scroll forward on their Palm Pilots and try to predict, while 4 veterans look back on what it took and speculate about the former colleagues who followed a different path.

The more recent article/documentary, “Great Expectations for Female Lawyers,” looked up several of the women profiled and found that many had not accomplished their original goals, many pondering whether the gender gap had an impact on them.

So I’m going to do something fairly ambitious today: I’m going to ask you guys to scroll forward in YOUR Palm Pilots (tee hee) and tell me: where do you want/think you’ll be in five years — and in ten years? What do you think the major challenges are that you’ll encounter? How much do you think gender issues will play into your success or failure? I’d love to ask that everyone comment with an email address in the address field — I’ll keep your emails private but I’d love to be able to come back to this post in five years (or ten years, God willing) and email a few of you to see where you are, how it shook out. (This is the ambitious part!) (Of course all email addresses will be held in confidence, in keeping with The Corporette Privacy Policy.)

For my $.02:  I’m so far off the path right now that this doesn’t seem even fair to myself for me to say.  In five years, I hope I’ll still be running this site as my profession, of course; if not I have confidence that one of my many Plan Bs will work out.  I’m not sure it’s fair to call them “gender issues,” but I suppose that’s what they are — I struggle daily with life/work balance, needing to devote more time to my business, wanting to devote more time (and quality, high energy time at that) to my family — and I struggle with finding time to be the “cruise director” to our lives (e.g., planning educational, age-appropriate weekend outings and vacations, managing our financial investments as well as clothing/food purchases, making family photo albums, etc, etc).  I outsource/assign what I can to my husband, VA, or my mother (my Christmas list this year is a series of thinly veiled research projects!) but I think this “Cruise Director” Syndrome is a uniquely female goal — the goal to manage everything for your family on TOP of killing it in business.

Readers, let’s hear from you: where do you think you’ll be in five years? In ten years?  What gender issues do you struggle with now (impeding your progress); which do you think will have a greater impact in your years to come?  Those of you in (or about to be in BigLaw) — where do you think you’ll be in five years?  For those of you who are or want to become mothers, how do you think that will change things?  What will the impact be of sponsors, mentors, and other forms of support from your jobs (either male or female) — essential or nice to have? Is there a single thing that will help you reach your goals, and if so what is it?  

(Pictured above: Original Palm Pilot, originally uploaded to Flickr by swanksalot.  MY first Palm Pilot was one of the clear ones (if memory serves, I think that was my first), and it was awesome.)

Comments

  1. Great topic! Wish I had better answers. :)

    In 5-10 years, I hope that I’ll be partner/tracked at my current firm or a comparable one. But it’s hard – as successful as I was in law school, law itself has been much harder than I expected, both the job market and the practice, and I’m still relatively new to my current job (which is the type that I’d been aiming for for the last 4 years and only recently was able to find). To be honest, I have no idea how I’m doing and worry a lot that it’s not enough.

    I don’t expect gender issues to be a big problem – I’m lucky, and have a stay at home husband to our almost 1 year old. But I will admit that being away from my baby is harder than I anticipated – I miss him every moment, and I’m terrible at trying to work from home, when I could be playing with him. We hope to have another in a year or so (running out of time, bio-clock-wise!), and that’s hard to think about, too, now that I’m in a more demanding job and I don’t know how it will be to be pregnant/take leave from it. I hope that the pain of being away will get easier as kid(s) get more independent.

    My boss is a fairly young female and mom (to elementary school aged kids), which I hope helps. But I’m not sure yet. Really interested in seeing what others have to say.

    • In 5-10 year’s I expect to be MARRIED, with at least two children, liveing in the subburb’s and mabye workeing part time as a JUDGE or as a PROFESSEUR of Law, hopefully at FULL Salary. But I have along way to go, especialy b/c I do NOT even have a BOYFREIND worth marrying let alone haveing sexeual realations with. FOOEY! I want to be MARRIED so that I do NOT have to have to sampel all of these men and be impressed by them when they are NOT impressive. Mabye I will just visit a sperm bank and make a withdrawl from it and that will be that. But then Grandma Leyeh will NOT give me my $50,000. DOUBEL FOOEY, b/e either way I have to have sex with a looser. TRIPEL FOOEY!

  2. Anonymous :

    Honestly, I just hope to have my student loans paid off so that I have the freedom to really think about what career I want, rather than what career I need to pay off my loans.

    • I’m 27 now. Just started in BigLaw. Hate it. Honestly, I’m hoping in five years I’ll be married to a man making enough so I can be a SAHM, and that in ten years I have two kids bouncing on my knees. I guess I’ll see where things take me though.

  3. Senior Attorney :

    GREAT topic!

    Professionally, I hope to be in the same job, same location, although hopefully in a more challenging assignment. In 5 years I will be 10 years away from retirement, in 10 years I will be 5 years away with the end really in sight! At this point the gender issues are largely day-to-day indignities rather than structural issues, given that I am past my child-rearing years, and I expect that to continue. I will continue to try to be a role model for other women as best I can.

    Personally, I am going to admit that I hope to find a lovely new man within the next five years. Hopefully my current divorce proceedings will be but a distant memory and I will have a new house, new life partner, new life. Gender issues here include finding someone who is my equal but isn’t threatened by the fact that I’m his equal.

    And surely in 10 years I’ll be a grandma? Please? ;)

  4. Right now I’m in my senior year as an undergrad, getting ready to enter the workforce! In 5 years, I hope to be in a strong graduate school studying to earn my MBA. In 10 years, I hope to be married or in a serious relationship, and be working at a job that is financially and personally rewarding. One where I am intellectually challenged, rewarded for my hard work, and respected.

    Some major challenges I worry will be if I’m competitive enough with my degree and will have time to enjoy life or will work consume me.

    I do expect gender issues to be a problem. I’ve worked all four years I was at my university, and some of the people I reported to made sexist comments to me when I was working, and I suspect their attitude effected what jobs I got. Not everyone acts like this, so I think it is not fair to stereotype a whole group of people for a few stupid people’s actions. But it’s important to be aware that this might be an issue at play, and when it does come up be willing to stand up for yourself.

  5. 1. I”m at the midpoint of my career, in my mid-30s. In finance, in investment management.

    2. It really does feel like an inflection point — where I can either use where I am as a jumping off point to do something bigger, more lucrative, with more responsibility. Or for me to decide to pretty much do the same job as I’m doing, either at the same firm, or at many different firms. I really am not sure which way is the right way for me.

    There’s a part of me that thinks I’d be a weenie for taking up the challenge — there’s another part of me that loves my work-life balance. I have a DH I love, lots of hobbies, and close friends I enjoy investing time in.

    I have also begun thinking about what it would be like to downsize — our overall lifestyle and spending, in order to make it possible for one or both of us to retire early. And be free from the corporate rat-race once and for all. I sometimes think it wouldn’t be so crazy if we could save and invest enough, for me to chuck it all and become a professional musician.

    • weenie for NOT taking up the challenge, I meant to type. Oops. Typing on this phone makes my already cruddy typing worse!

    • Wow, I am in my early 30s and in no way feel I am about to be half-way through my working life. I can’t imagine only working for 30 years. (assuming that you graduated at 22 and have now worked for approximately 13 years that would have you leaving the workforce at 48!).

      Do others in their 30s feel like they are at the mid-point?

      This now makes me worried that I should have things more figured out.

  6. Interesting topic!

    Professionally: I hope I have ascended to be VP of my department (I am in-house) or that my company creates a general counsel position for me OR that I’ve found a comparable position in the reinsurance market. If I am still at my current company, I will be the first female executive, which is exciting. I also hope I am making at least double my current salary.

    Personally: I hope I am still happily married, that we’ve decided to have one child (a girl, since we’re talking about hopes!), and that we are living in a house that we both like . And I hope that we have resolved the stupid ongoing issues with my in-laws. And, finally, I hope that we still have our two kitty cats.

  7. I’m currently in my late 30s. In 5 years I should hope I’ll be partner, hopefully at the same firm. I’ve only been here for 1 1/2 years at this point (after many years of not living in this city) so in 5 years time I hope I have a strong client base, have really built my profile in the community, and am respected for what I do.

    In my personal life, 5 years from now I will be the mother of an almost-5-year-old. I hope that I will be a loving and supportive mother and will be able to put my family first in my daily life. I also hope that by that point my SO and I will have gotten married (currently the plan is for sometime next year, but who knows…) and the three of us will be a strong family unit.

  8. I am currently 25, recently married (about a month ago) and working as an attorney for a federal agency. We live in a city away from most of our friends and family, and are renters.

    In 5 years, I’d like to be trying to have kids, or have just had a kid, and be living in a place that we want to really “have roots” in. I’d like us to actually own a house. And have a dog. ;-) Currently I am the main breadwinner as my husband has gone back to school, so in 5 years I hope he has a job to help sustain our standard of living in case I want to work part-time to be a mom. Job-wise, I really enjoy my current job and would love to still be doing it in 5 years, just at a different location. My wish is that I would be given more supervisory opportunities at that point, and have continued to be promoted along the agency standards.

    In 10 years, I hope we have 2 kids. I still think I’d like to be at my same job, but potentially in a more supervisor role. I also have aspirations to be an administrative law judge, which can happen after 10 years of litigation experience. So hopefully I could be much closer to making that potential a reality.

    Luckily for me – other than dealing with snarky opposing counsel who think I am too young, I haven’t had many “gender issues” in the workplace. Within my job, as it is with the federal government, I have a feeling that gender issues will remain a negligible issue. They are great with flexible working schedules too and extended leave for new parents. I know I will run into the common problems of trying to figure out when to get pregnant, tell my boss, take maternity leave, returning to work, dealing with missing my kid, maybe being SATM or having a SATD (depending on my husband’s job). But reading this blog (as I have since my first year of law school) has been invaluable to hear other women’s opinions on these shared issues. Thanks Kat!

  9. wildkitten :

    Almost 30. In 5 years I’d like to be married, half-way done with my student loans, getting ready to buy a house and thinking about having kids. I’d be very happy to be working for the same agency but in a higher position. I’d like to be healthy, financially stable, well-networked, and bilingual.

    • wildkitten :

      In 10 years I’ll be done with student loans, own a house, and have 1-2 kids. Honestly, I don’t anticipate gender issues coming up until I have kids. I’d like to do less than half the child raising (with a husband and professional help) but I know that gender issues will come up as a mother.

  10. Gail the Goldfish :

    I stopped trying to answer the “where will I be in 5 years?” question when I realized the reality never matched where I thought I would be. (In the beginning of high school, I thought I’d be in a northeast school in 5 years. In the beginning of college (in a southern school), I thought I’d be in med school. In the beginning of law school, I thought I’d be in DC at a big firm. 3 years out of law school, I’m in NYC at a small firm in an area of law I had no intention of practicing).

    Profsesionally, right now, I’ll just settle for “anything in North Carolina” as I passed their bar exam this summer and would really like to get out of NYC. Other than that, I have no idea.

    Personally, I’ve had the same boyfriend for coming up on a decade. He’ll probably still be around in the next 5 years:-) Our other goal is to live somewhere where we can get a pair of kittens. That should be achievable, right?
    (This post of course outs me to anyone who knows me IRL. Hi, everyone)

  11. This is hard – I have had jobs in 5 different industries in 10 years, none of which I am dedicated to or am really interested in long term. I don’t know what I want to do career wise, so in 5 years I hope I am working in a job that I do not hate which allows me to pay the bills. Or I hope that my current bf will at that point be my husband and he will have found a job that allows me to stay home and work part-time on my own projects. I do not want children, so no hopes there.

    In 10 years, I hope I am healthy and happy and married and not working in a job that I hate.

    I am very rudderless!!

    • Oh, I am 33, already own a house (that I would like to unload), have student loans I am not really working towards paying off, and have no other debt (besides mortgage and student loans).

  12. Currently mid-30s, married with children, non-equity partner at BigLaw firm. In 5 years, I hope to be an equity partner or pretty close to it. In 5-10 years, I’d hope to have some type of leadership role–practice group head maybe?

    I don’t feel like I’ve been hugely impeded by gender issues. My husband is a more than 50% partner on the child care front, and I think my firm is one of the better ones from a gender perspective. There are, of course, societal pressures that we all deal with and gender issues that are prevalent in the practice of law, but I don’t think those have held or will hold me back. I struggle some with work/life balance, but I don’t think I struggle a lot more than my male counterparts with working spouses. I think the much bigger struggle for me is that I’m a crappy rainmaker.

  13. Early 40s. BigLaw partner; husband; 2 small children.

    5 years: I want to write a trashy novel that sells well. If it does, I want the swanky convertible that has had my heart since I got my license. I will then drive cross-country with my daughters while my still-husband does the Camino de Santiago.

  14. Olivia Pope :

    Mid-twenties 1st year associate in litigation, husband, no kids.

    Honestly, I feel very fortunate to be on the exact path that I want. I’m at the right firm in the right practice area in the right city. Both my husband and I are from here and our families are here, so there’s no need to move from this area. Ever.

    In 5 years, I want to be an income partner or close to it (my firm is not lockstep, so it’s possible!). I want to be still married to my husband. We own a home, but 5 years from now I’d like to move into a bigger, nicer Forever Home. I would love to not have a baby in 5 years, to be honest, but my husband is older so we will probably procreate by that time. Hobby wise, I have an idea for a book that I’d love to have actually written in 5 years.

    In 10 years, I want to be an equity partner or a judge (why not dream big!). Hopefully still married to my husband (I’m pretty into him). One biological child + adoptive child(ren). I also request a Settlers of Catan championship of some sort. And I would like to run a half marathon.

    The End. Back to billing.

  15. Mary Ann Singleton :

    I just want to live on a farm with lots of ponies. And baby goats. Is that too much to ask?

    (Currently BigLaw mid-level. Want to quit the rat race, but not because of gender issues, I’m just tired of it.)

  16. In five years I want to be in a leadership position in my office, or how about judge? I like to think big. Or just happy and still fully engaged in my work. I want my two boys to stay out of trouble and to be happy and healthy.

  17. In 5 years, I want to work less than I currently do, with the same great people currently in my office, and I want to be in a relationship that makes me happy (whether current DH or someone else). I have a baby on the way, so I expect I’ll have at least one kiddo. And I want to be more comfortable in my own skin and have less guilt about me-time (I know, that’s a nice dream with a baby on the way…).

    As far as gender dynamics – my office is awesome about allowing working moms and dads to have whatever role they want or need. My biggest obstacle has been DH’s views on gender roles and having to essentially be a “working mom” to him even before we have kids.

    • “My biggest obstacle has been DH’s views on gender roles and having to essentially be a “working mom” to him even before we have kids.”

      I’m here too.

      • AttiredAttorney :

        This is what I’m most scared of.

        • Another anon :

          There are worse responsibilities than having a DH who is kind, loving, honorable, hardworking, faithful; shares my values; overlaps w/ my interests;…and is domestically challenged. It can be aggravating but it’s not the worst problem in the world.

          • BigLaw Refugee :

            Every relationship is different and I’m sure those of you who have “domestically challenged” husbands will make it work. But for anyone who is considering a romantic partner and not yet married, I’d advise to seriously consider that aspect of his personality. My now-ex husband is a wonderful human being, my soul mate really, and I said things like this to myself in our courting days. But over time, the combination of having to be in charge at work, plus be in charge at home, and dealing with the stress created by his disorganization, made me into a person my husband no longer enjoyed being with. And on my side, I had trouble staying in love with him even though on an intellectual level I still think he’s a great person.

            In our case, he was not only “challenged” but prone to get defensive and tense about the problems it created; someone with a more laid-back personality might have been easier to deal with.

            Just saying: if you’re going to have a demanding career, seriously consider choosing a life partner who makes your life easier, not harder.

  18. Hmmm. Good question and one I am working on. I am early 30s, lawyer in a small boutique in Silicon Valley. I made this move a month ago because I didn’t like my career path at a larger firm.

    I would like to have a decent book of business. 500k or so. Preferably be a partner but that isn’t a meaningful title for me. Ideally, I would have a bigger book and be able to have an associate to do my work for me. :-)

    Maybe its naive but I think being a woman in my field is a help and not a hindrance. Women in the Silicon Valley seem to stick together and help each other out.

    On a personal front, I think I will move closer to work to shorten my commute

    • Sorry. Typing on phone is hard.

      I think and hope that I will still be with my boyfriend. If we will be married, engaged or living together is still up in the air. He is super awesome but we both like having space. apart from eachother. Probably no kids just some cats and hopefully I can talk him into a dog.

  19. TO Lawyer :

    In 5 and 10 years, I want to be kicking butt at work and be a leader in this niche practice area (which is pretty much an old boys club right now).

    I would like to have a husband who understands and isn’t intimidated by my ambition and supports my career pursuits. I’m not sure about the kids thing yet but if I have them, I hope it’s in a way where my career doesn’t have to be drastically sacrificed in order to raise them and that my husband takes an equal (or perhaps more than equal) role in raising our children. (from the men I’ve met thus far, I feel like this is the hardest thing to achieve!)

    I do think that gender roles will play a slight impact, as I regularly go to meetings where I’m the only woman but I also hope this continues to change in the next 5-10 years.

  20. Anonymous :

    “I outsource/assign what I can to my husband.” Do most people feel this way or do they feel their partners do household work without outsourcing/assigning it to them? I am not judging, I am trying to figure out how to proceed in my own life.

    • I do assign. My husband is willing but doesn’t always see what needs to be done or understand how. So I make a list of projects for both of us. FWIW, this works for us because he is happy with this arrangement too–so I’m not just nagging from his perspective.

    • Not married. Many boyfriends. But yes, someone has to manage the household and it is usually the woman (assuming male-female couple).

      It becomes a matter of degree though. Some men want to be given instructions. overtime they do a repetitive task like emptying the dishwasher. This results in nagging wife syndrome. Not fun. Some are good with “every night, wash the dishes.” But they don’t take any initiative to notice that dishes need to be done outside that defined interval. Some people can take control of some aspect like noticing the garbage is full and taking out the garbage in a timely manner. But general planning is still up to the other person. Other couples can really work well together and have meetings to discuss long term strategy, have a shared calenda, etc. But this is rare.

    • AnonInfinity :

      I don’t assign or outsource to husband. We have a general division of labor. He works less than I do so always does the shopping and generally things around the house like folding laundry or changing light bulbs. I usually call and deal with contractors or other people. If one of us notices something in the other’s area, we’ll speak up, but no one makes a list and divides up the tasks. When I notice something isn’t done in the house and it’s bothering me, I will just do it. This works for us because we both really really really hate being told what to do/how to do things and we have about the same tolerance for mess, etc.

      I know some couples get along well with one person giving assignments to the other, but that makes me feel like a micromanager or nag.

    • wildkitten :

      Hire a housekeeper. That is the best advice I have gotten from thissite.

    • I’m in a lesbian relationship, so different gender dynamics. We generally split tasks like AnonInfinity, but we’ll also ask the other to do something we don’t feel like doing (laundry or taking out the trash, mostly). Neither of us is really cruise director, but there’s mutual “I need for the floors to be clean, please clean them soon.” (I don’t clean floors but I hate dirty floors.) She’ll do the same with other tasks.

    • My hubs does some things without prompting (recycling, trash, emptying dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom. target shopping). Others require prompting, mostly because I notice them before he does (laundry and groceries being the big ones). A few other things, I could ask him to do, but he would not even know where to begin (nanny admin stuff, signing our kid up for classes).

    • Anonymous :

      I have been killing myself at work lately and also getting super-stressed because my husband doesn’t do a good job at childcare or chores on his own. So this past weekend I started assigning him tasks rather than expecting him to do the things I always do to keep the household running. I don’t really like bossing him around, but I like sleep deprivation and chaos less. When my work life is less hectic, we have a standard division of chores that doesn’t require me to delegate because he knows what is on his to-do list.

    • BigLaw Refugee :

      I definitely felt that way when I was married. I actually read a book called something like “Mom Inc.” that recommended embracing this perspective and running with it – using some of the some project planning, organization and feedback strategies you’d use with an employee in the workplace. My husband managed to do a couple of things without being prompted, but for most things he required multiple reminders. Now that I’m divorced, I find he wasn’t really saving me much time, and was adding a lot of stress by being a bad “employee.” But he was an extreme case.

  21. Divaliscious11 :

    In five years, I hope to be fully hitting my stride at a minimum Deputy GC level or perhaps even GC at a smaller company. Since my wee people will still be in the very expensive stage (tuition), I’ll still be working. In 10 years? If still working – GC definitely. But also maybe not working at all depending on what is going on in my husband’s career – but completely by choice at that point. Gender issues? Hmmm, the same that exist now….. but I think less impactful….

  22. AnonInfinity :

    What a great discussion. In five years, I think I will be a partner at my law firm. In 10, I will hopefully be well on my way to equity partner. By that 10-year mark, I hope to have landed a major client (due to the nature of my practice, that would be a Fortune 500 company) or at least have primarily taken over a significant chunk of those matters from the partner I work with the most.

    I may be naive, but I don’t foresee gender issues impeding these goals, at least as long as I stay in my current firm. Admittedly, I am in a slightly unusual but awesome position. My mentor/sponsor (one of the Very Important partners at my firm) has lately decided that equalizing the playing field for women is very important to him, and he has completely taken me under his wing. We get along well anyway, so I think he’d want to mentor me even if I weren’t a woman, but he is making a very conscious effort to make sure that women here have exactly the same opportunities as the men. Additionally, my husband has already decided that he wants to do the majority of the childcare, and he already does the majority of the housework, so I don’t believe I’ll be held back by those issues.

    For a long time I was afraid I would not be given opportunities because I’m a woman and many of the women around me quit after having children or go part time after that. I was afraid their decisions would affect how I’m seen and the opportunities I receive. I know that’s an issue at some places, but the partners at my current firm have consistently shown me that it’s not an issue here.

    I have, however encountered sexism from opposing counsel and some judges. I believe those attitudes will fade as the older generations retire.

    • AnonInfinity :

      I forgot personally — I hope to have 1-2 children in 5 years. And a house that I love. We currently own a house that I do not love. And no debt other than mortgage.

  23. I’m in my late 20s, single, in IT.

    I’ve been with the same company as a contractor for the past 7 years. The past 5, working unsociable hours because, yeah, I need the money. (story of our lives) In 5 years’ time I want to have put this “contractor” thing away and made inroads into service management.

    In 10, I’d like to preferably have popped out mini-me and mew-two, and left them home with their father because I am the least domestic human being on earth so my other half gets to pick up the slack. Career-wise, I still want to stay in service management but I honestly have not thought beyond project executive, if that is even what I want once I get that far….

  24. I am 30..I have been a planner for most of my life…but I am trying not to plan for more than one year ahead as I have realized life is full of surprises and it would be good for me to make short term plans about which I have more information about. But given my nature…I still have some idea but definitely not to the tiniest details (that I used to plan say 3 years back). So in 5 years, I absolutely want to have one or two children, be in a leadership position at my job (same of different company) and have assets that can generate at least $1000 per month as income (apart from mine and DH’s salary).

  25. I currently: am 30 years old, recently bought a ‘forever home’, recently married a ‘forever husband’ :), am pregnant with kid #1, and have a great job with a great company – currently my position is as high up as possible without a title starting with “C”.

    In 5 years I hope to: have the same home, same husband, be pregnant with kid #3 (or at least working on it), and have basically the same job assuming that the company continues to grow as it has for the last few years (so, probably same title but more responsibility due to organization being bigger).

    In 10 years I hope to: have the same home, same husband, 4 kids (with 0 in my uterus), probably a vasectomy for the husband, and be a partner at my current company.

    • SoCalAtty :

      This is pretty close to mine, minus the kids. I have 1 step above me before I hit a title starting with “C.”

      So all of that in 5 years, and maybe by then we might have our first kid. Maybe. If we can make up our minds. Also in 5 years, I would hope we would have our house built. We purchased our “forever” house, but it is tiny and we plan to push it over and rebuild.

      In 10 years? Same company, maybe GC, maybe just DGC with expanded responsibilities as the company grows. Student loans paid off, so my only debt is mortgage and car.

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