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Men Should Receive Flexible Working Hours as Well As Women

Men Should Receive Flexible Working Hours as Well As Women, Says Lawyer of the Year Stacey Shortall

LawFuel.com/NewZealand - New Zealand's Lawyer of the Year, named by the law news and law jobs site LawFuel, has spoken of the "double bind" experienced by women lawyers, but also about the need for the law to provide more flexibility for men.

In an interview with LawFuel publisher John Bowie she said that her "strong view" was that both men and woman should receive flexible work time.

"The key is making available alternative working arrangements that are available to both men and women. When you gender stereotype those arrangements, you stigmatise them and I have never seen that work successfully."

Ms Shortall, who received a $500 Staedtler pen set along with her recogntion for being the website's lawyer of the year, had spent 11 years working for a major Wall Street law firm as a litigator.

She became closely involved in charitable work, particularly involving incarcerated African American mothers who had been removed from their children, usually following violence within the family.

Since returning to New Zealand, where she is a partner with Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, Ms Shortall has also become heavily involved in similar programmes involving imprisoned women, as well as setting up a Homework Help programme to assist Decile 1 schools with homework help, mentoring and other matters.

However on the subject of women in law, she has strong views that flexible work time should be provided to employees and others regardless of gender.

As a mother of three children she practices what she preaches.

"If you want to have that culture of flexibility I think leaders have to own it. I drop my kids off at school as much as I can and I collect them as much as I can. I don’t say ‘I’m going to a meeting’ – I say ‘I’m going to pick up my children’.

As a litigator, she is also aware of issues faced by women. "in the litigation environment there is that classic ‘double bind’ . . . you’re too aggressive and too masculine if you are strong and confrontational, and if you are about building consensus you’re ineffective and weak."

However she also noted that she had never felt her gender had held her back from succeeding in her career, but she remains adamant that women should be supportive of one another and women leaders need to demonstrate leadership through their actions.

The full interview can be read at LawFuel here.


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