Gaveling the Glass Ceiling: What is the ‘State of Women’ in 2017?

Topics: Corporate Legal, Diversity, Law Firms, Legal Executive Events, Women’s Leadership Blog Posts


We compiled the March issue of “Gaveling the Glass Ceiling” amid the afterglow of the first big event of the year for Thomson Reuters’ Transforming Women’s Leadership in the Law (TWLL) initiative, the 3rd Annual Women’s Transformative Leadership Forum, held March 2 in New York City.

The event, sponsored by Thomson Reuters’ Legal Executive Institute, was by all measures, a tremendous hit, with key insights and compelling stories being shared by a group of valuable women and men role models with a large, receptive audience. I was grateful to be a part of it.

I helped kick off the event by moderating the opening panel, which was entitled, Is It a (Wo)man’s World?: Exploring the ‘State of Women’ in 2017, which focused on the current status and the potential future of women. But first, I asked the panel to examine the successes women saw in 2016 and review some of the gains that have been made.

One of my panelist, Catherine Russell, the Former Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State, described in great detail the strides that had be made at the State Department and within United States government as a whole to integrate gender programming and policy into the main work of many government agencies. Another panelist, Sonia Ossorio, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) of New York, said that in 2016, NOW had made gains for mass incarcerated women by helping to pass a ban on shackling pregnant inmates during childbirth.

The members of the opening panel (l to r), Charlotte Rushton, Sonia Ossorio, Lenora Lapidus and Catherine Russell.

Looking to the future, I suggested to the panel that the historic women’s marches and political participation seen after the presidential election may be viewed as a populist uprising. My panelists agreed, and said the level of activism and engagement of women and men around the U.S. and the world has not been seen in a very long time.

The Forum certainly inspired and invigorated me, and I think, many of those in attendance. I think that mood was summed up very well by the call to action in the Forum’s opening remarks from Patsy Doerr, Thomson Reuters’ Head of Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability and Inclusion: “Diversity, and particularly women in leadership is an imperative, not an option.”

Also in this issue of Gaveling the Glass Ceiling, check out a recent blog post by Lynda A. Bennett of Lowenstein Sandler, entitled Three Myths Holding Women Back from Career Advancement. Bennett lays out several myths involving networking and business development that unfortunately, too many law firms and legal departments allow to hinder women colleagues and keep them from reaching their full potential.

A Reminder… TWLL will be hosting other events soon, including our Client Dinners in New York on March 29, and in Washington, D.C. on April 26. Seating is limited and these events tend to fill up fast, so contact us to register or for more information.