International Women’s Day falls this month on Sunday, March 8, and it’s always a bittersweet day for me. On the one hand, it’s incredible to see how far women have come in their battle for equality, and I love the idea of celebrating the strengths of the women in my life, including my wife and daughters. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel disappointed by how far there still is to go, particularly when it comes to the treatment of women in the workforce.
More women are going into law these days than ever before, but it’s still a largely male dominated field, so I see a lot of society’s double standards first hand. The biggest one I encounter on a daily basis is the difference in how male and female attorneys are viewed. Lawyers in general have a reputation for being tough, aggressive people, and when a male attorney tears into a witness or is a bit harsh with opposing counsel, people write it off as just lawyers being lawyers, or even praise him for it. But when a female attorney does the exact same things, people call her cold, mean, or worse. It’s a really frustrating situation, and one I see every day because right now, I’m actually the only man working at the Law Offices of Jason Estavillo — the rest of my coworkers are tough, powerful women who are amazing at what they do.
The same double standards exist outside of the courtroom, too. Women are expected to know how to parent and deal with kids, for example, while for decades men have gotten a pass on childcare. Thankfully, there has been some movement on that, at least here in California. A lot more is expected from fathers today than 20 years ago, and I’ve seen more dads stepping up and taking an active role in their kids’ lives, which I think is fantastic. Personally, I view being a dad as one of my biggest privileges in life. I want to give Emmie, Gigi, and Sloane every possible opportunity and help them grow into confident, independent women like their mom and so many of the other women in our family.
When I was growing up, one of the women I looked up to and who really embodied those traits was my grandmother, Eleanor — Emmie’s namesake. She was a real adventurer, and she was never afraid to strike out on her own. When my grandfather was serving in the Navy overseas, Eleanor — instead of sitting at home — bought a little MG car and drove through the Mediterranean region of Europe, paralleling his ship, the USS Saratoga, so she could experience the culture and continent for herself. When my grandfather passed away, she moved to Northern California to live closer to us, but she never slowed down. She was an interior decorator and an artist, and she was never afraid to share her opinion. She created her own life and, at 80 years old, even took my mom, my sister, and me on a month-long trip to Europe, just because. We were very close, and I hate to think of women as amazing as she was being treated without the respect she deserved. If we had more women like my grandmother in Washington, I think this country would be much better off.
It’s 2020 now, and it’s time we put an end to double standards. This month, if you’re up for a challenge, try to be conscious of your own gender biases and how they’re shaping your behavior. Recognizing these double standards is the first step to changing them — which is an International Women’s Day goal I think we can all get behind!