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Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Glass ceiling

U.S. attorney general says professional women must fight to make themselves heard

By WITW Staff on September 16, 2016

In an interview for The Washington Post’s project on “Women in Power,” the United States Attorney General, Loretta E. Lynch, indicated that while she may no longer have too much trouble catching people’s ear, that women, including herself, still “face the very real risk of not being seen and not being heard.”

Lynch, the first black woman, and second woman overall, to head the Department of Justice, shared a story from her time as a young associate at a North Carolina law firm when a partner at her firm had another young associate sit in on her presentation to a client. Although her colleague, a man, had not worked on the case, her client insisted on directing all his questions to him. “I think things like that make you realize that people see you in a different light,” said Lynch.

In law school and early in her career, Lynch added, certain professors and supervisors would initially deride or ignore her ideas only to praise them when they were reiterated by a man. And when she graduated at the top of her high school class, she revealed, school administrators forced her to share the honor with two others so that the school wouldn’t have a lone black valedictorian.

According to Lynch, the ease with which young professional women’s opinions are overlooked means that they must fight to “make [themselves] seen and make [themselves] heard.” Even in law, which Lynch described as more equitable if only due to there being too much work for people to avoid handing out responsibility, Lynch said that her decision to work for government was still made in part because there were more women in management roles there. In the private sector in particular, she added, the “glass ceiling” has yet to be broken.

Back in March, Lynch appeared at the Women in the World Salon in Washington, D.C., and talked about why she chose a career in public service and touched on a number of other hot topics in the U.S. — including one that drew loud sighs of disappointment from the audience. Watch the video of that appearance below.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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