Women law students feel stereotyped


    By Rebecca Silva

    Some women at BYU”s law school find dating difficult as they battle the ongoing stigma that women pursuing a law degree don”t care about family.

    “When we tell boys we”re in law school, they”re automatically turned off by it,” said Rachel George, 24, a first-year law student from Idaho Falls, Idaho. “Even some of the graduate men, they”ll still give you this glazed look, thinking ”Oh, you”re one of those worldly, femi-nazi types,” so they won”t give you the time of day.”

    While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages women to prioritize a family above a career, female law students argue that just because a woman actively pursues an education in law doesn”t mean she doesn”t embrace family values.

    “The prophets have said that being an educated woman is something that is a benefit to your children,” said Dianne Orcutt, 22, a first-year law student from Pleasant Grove. “It doesn”t mean that I”m going to be an absentee mother or choose to be a femi-nazi and not have kids. I think I will be a good mother because of it.”

    Television shows such as Ally McBeal and Law and Order frequently depict lawyers as workaholics. However, while some lawyers do spend 50 to 60 hours a week working, there are several career options in the law field that leave room for family, Orcutt said.

    “You watch TV, and all you see is lawyers work all the time,” she said. “They”re really brutal and always in court, and with a law degree there”s so much more you can do.”

    Female lawyers can choose to work on wills and trusts out of their homes, Orcutt said.

    Some female students complain that men at BYU respond negatively to female law students because they feel threatened.

    “For me, it”s been more difficult to date because it”s harder to find men who are secure enough in themselves that they can handle a woman who”s very independent, and is pursuing her own goals,” George said. “They don”t like the competition. They don”t want women competing for jobs because they”re supposed to be the breadwinners of the family.”

    Layne Smith, 26, a law student from West Valley said he feels differently.

    “Lots of them have level heads, but sometimes women in law school are defensive about the women”s rights issues, and they”re out for blood,” Smith said. “They”re trying to prove their lack of inferiority when I don”t think anybody believes that there is inferiority.”

    Despite opinions that women are over-concerned with sexism, some men said they wouldn”t have a problem dating a woman who is attending law school.

    “If people are scared to date law students, then they are just scared to examine their own lives and to think objectively about things,” said Eric Lewis, 22, from Evanston, Wyo., majoring in Middle Eastern studies and Arabic.

    Still, many female law students say that men respond negatively when they discover that a woman is pursuing a law degree.

    “It”s a big issue for our women,” said James Ord, 26, a first-year law student from Hampton, Va. “But I”ll tell you, it”s the best-kept secret in Mormondom. The women in our law school are the top-notch, creme de la creme of Mormondom. This is it man, it doesn”t get any better.”

    Ord said women at BYU”s law school are smart and ambitious.

    “They”re intelligent, they want families and, on top of that, they cook and bake,” Ord said. “They”re awesome, and we don”t give them enough credit.”

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