The Center for Work-Life Policy study found that only 20% of highly qualified female lawyers singled out “a powerful position” as a very important career goal. Now to me this finding raises a red flag. Do women care so little about having an impact? About finding ways to bring their considerable talents to bear on the world’s problems? I just don’t believe it. I think women express themselves in this way only because in our society the concept of power unfortunately has become disconnected from the goal of improving our society.
Kagan validates my sadness that women too infrequently seem to value powerful professional positions. People often respond as though I am somehow a shallow or terrible person for opining that power is something worth having. And Kagan hits the nail on the head. To me, power is something one should have not only for one's personal gain and satisfaction but because power is a major avenue for making contributions to our society. There is something wrong with the legal profession if the only value to be seen in a law firm partnership is the ability to afford a fancy car. There is something wrong with our society as a whole if power is understood only as an end in itself. And certainly while power is defined as something that only inures to the greater glory of the powerful, women, with our cultural imperative to be "helping," "serving" and "self-sacrificing" will tend not to fight for power.