Thursday, June 30, 2011

Message from our President - Brainstorming Session, save the date 13.8.2011

"Dear AWL Members,

We will be having a brainstorming session on 13 August 2011 with all members.This session is to help us all plan and strategize for the coming years, the activites or
issues that we all want AWL to be involved with. There will be an external facilitator to help us with the session. Angela Kukuthas is an activist who has conducted faciltiation processes for many organisations. We are at present working with her to draw up a Terms Of Reference for the session. She will help us asses where we are and where we want to be.

We, as members have a stake in this organisation. If we want to make
AWL relevant to us, to all women lawyers and to the community, then
we must be willing to walk the extra mile to get involved.

Having a group of Exco members working on issues or activities is
insufficient to make AWL work and to make AWL relevant and different
from the BAR. We need active participation and for those reasons at
the AGM there was a conscious effort to co-opt more members, in
particular the younger fraternity.

Please keep the date, 13 August free.Will inform you of the time and venue closer to the event. However, we would like to have a head count as to how many of you are committed to attend. This will help us source the appropriate venue.

Please respond with your name and contact number to Hope to hear from all of you positively.

Warm regards,

Meera Samanther


Supremely hard juggling act from the New Straits Times.

Supremely hard juggling act
By Chok Suat Ling

Successful leaders like (clockwise, from left) Toh Puan Uma Sambanthan, Tun Dr
Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Tun Dr Fatimah Hashim, F.R. Bhupalan and Tan Sri P.G. Lim
have shown the way to progress and development to other women in Malaysia.
GENERATION X, Y and Z probably can't recall the times when girls did not go to
school. But, yes, in those days -- no, not during the Mesolithic Age -- girls
were not accorded that privilege.

Many other things were also off limits. If women worked at all, it was in menial
positions, to clear the sump in the bowels of an organisation.

Several formidable women broke through the barriers. In Malaysia, several names
immediately come to mind: Tun Dr Fatimah Hashim, Tan Sri P.G. Lim, Toh Puan Uma
Sambanthan, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali and F.R. Bhupalan, to name just a few.
They helped open the doors for others and brought about progress and

Among others, the National Policy on Women was formulated; a special chapter on
Women and Development was incorporated into the Sixth Malaysia Plan; and the
Women, Family and Community Development Ministry was established.

Indeed, much has been done to uplift the welfare of the daughters of Eve. On
Monday, they received another boon. A new government policy was announced --
corporate Malaysia was given five years to ensure 30 per cent of boardroom
members comprise women.

Three days later, the mood remains celebratory. Women around the country
jubilated over the recognition. After all, they have always known that they are
often far more efficient and meticulous than their male counterparts; are
natural multitaskers; and can face up to greater challenges. And pain.

They are not only capable of taking care of the roost and its demanding
occupants, but also ministries, constituencies, corporations and entire
galaxies, if that were possible.

Girls outperform boys in school and public examinations. Two-thirds of the
student population at public universities are also female. Girls also have a
thicker corpus callosum -- they are "wired" differently and are thus better in
many respects. (So, why do we need men again?)

There is no doubt, therefore, that women deserve more.

But everything that is good and all the progress that has been achieved come
with a price. Is it too high to pay?

Women now juggle careers and family. It is difficult, if not impossible, one or
the other will inevitably fall, no matter how skilled the juggler.

A high-flying chief executive officer once admitted, off-the-record, during an
interview that she hadn't been there through much of her children's growing-up
years. She would return home when they were already asleep on most days, and
left their care largely to the maid. She endeavoured to spend quality time with
them during the school holidays, but could usually only accommodate a five-day
break abroad at most.

She was grateful that they had "turned out well" despite it, and were now
pursuing their studies in prestigious universities abroad.

But not everyone is as lucky. Not many can have their cake and eat it, too.
Boorish, indisciplined children, rising numbers of adolescents seeking
psychiatric help and all manner of decadent behaviour among pre-pubescents
previously only seen in horror movies, attest to this.

Many other high-ranking career women share the same story. One related how she
is on the verge of collapse on most days, shuttling between meetings,
video-conferencing sessions and attending to clients, staff and family. On top
of that, she has to find time to "alleviate engorgement" or in other words,
express milk for her 9-month-old baby and rush home before he falls asleep.
Usually, she doesn't make it and is wracked with guilt.

It's not just those in top posts that experience this. Some also bail out of
promising careers because they simply can't cope. The thinning hair and
persistent stress-related outbreak of rashes are just not worth it.

And then, there are those who choose not to get married or have children to
focus on their careers.

"No point bringing kids into the world if I can't give them my all.

Society still expects us to play the main role in child rearing and we can't do
both without compromising one, or both. I choose career," a senior marketing
manager told me matter of factly.

Flexi-hours, telecommuting and the setting up of creches at workplaces may
alleviate the burden to a certain extent. But it remains that it is difficult to
follow in the footsteps of high-achieving women. Not impossible, but very tough.

Something always has to give in the end. The question is, which is it?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sexism and the Client

Interesting article on how to deal with unwanted advances from a client.

Sexism and the Client
by Kat on 06/23/2010 · 208 comments
in Being Girly,Business Etiquette,Careerism,CoWorker Problems,Love,Networking,Professionalism
We got a fascinating reader email from an eighth year attorney on the partnership track…
I am actively trying to build my client base, including going to lunches with local CEOs of start-up companies, etc. Today I went on a lunch with a 50ish CEO that I met at a seminar my firm hosted. During this lunch meeting at a local restaurant, he proceeded to make a comment about how attractive I was five different times during an hour long conversation. Whenever he would do it, I would just quickly move on to another topic and not acknowledge the statement. By the time I got back to the office, I was livid. I can’t imagine any of my male colleagues having to experience a situation even remotely similar to this. Here, I am trying to build a client base for myself and my firm and in doing so, I’m reminded that I’m looked at as an attractive women first and a lawyer second. Any thoughts/comments on how I can deal with this issue in the future? Thanks in advance!
Eeeeesh. We’ll say it again: eeesh. We’re curious to hear what the readers are going to have to say about this one. (Pictured: probably what your would-be client is hoping you’ll say…) First, we would say that you have two goals at these kinds of meetings. The first goal: get the guy as a client. The second goal: not ruin your relationship with whoever introduced you to this guy. And it’s okay if you decide halfway through lunch that you do not WANT to work with this guy, and just want to get out of there without dropkicking him. After all, the kind of politeness and interest you might show to a potential client will not be the same you show to “business acquaintance of a friend.” For example, after about the third time he mentioned that you were attractive, we might say something very calm such as, “let’s stick to the topic, please.” If he still persisted, we’d lean back and start to show disinterest, or use a break in the conversation to perhaps say something like, “Oh, this reminds me of the time __” and rattle off a few of your professional accomplishments. After about the fifth time, we might invent an emergency (preferably one showing how desperately you’re needed at the office by another client) to get the heck out of there. You have to know your own tolerance for these kinds of jerks, and how much aggravation you’re willing to put up with for a potential client.
That said, you should be very mindful of your body language and other triggers that might send someone the wrong idea that it’s a date. For example, be very clear with him at the start of it about why you’re at lunch. Second, there can be overlap between “I’m a professional who’s interested” body language and “I’m a woman who’s interested” body language, such as leaning forward to show interest. For women who are interested in flirting, there are a number of other things to do to convey interest — touching your hair and body, mimicking his behavior (to suggest that you’re on the same wavelength), turning your body towards his, exposing your wrists — try to gauge yourself for how many of these things you’re doing unconsciously, because you could be sending out “I’m flirting” signals without even realizing it.
Readers, what are your tips for dealing with this kind of situation?Read more:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sexual Harrassment

Dear members,

Check out this article in "Malaysia Today" on Sexual Harrasment.

A quick update: AWL had sent its committee member, Ms Tham Hui Ying to
hold a watching brief at the domestic enquiry conducted by the
Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia at their offices in Putra World Trade
Centre on 2.6.2011. This was in relation to the complaint raised by a
female tour guide that she had been sexually harassed by a male tour
bus driver.

Siu Lin