A progress report.In the final minutes before the weekly progress meeting, Elizabeth James felt a calm come over her. She had been working overtime for weeks now to ‘help’ prepare the report her colleague Jarrod was supposed to be presenting. The only problem was the male lawyers had gone out for lunch three hours ago and were yet to be seen. Well, she’d done the work. Why should he get the credit? She’d present it herself.
Heading into the meeting room, there were a lot of empty chairs. The other female lawyers were standing against the wall, as they usually did. Not Elizabeth. Not today. Looking deliberately at several of her girlfriends, she sat down. She kept looking at them, until, one by one, they also took up the empty seats.
‘There are a lot of girls here today’. The comment came from the meeting chair and senior partner, Mr Thomas Harris.
‘Sir, the women here today are in this meeting every week. I think it may be the lack of boys you’re noticing. I believe they’re still at lunch’.
‘Of course, since they’re away, some of the women have taken a seat at the table, instead of standing at the back of the room’.
‘Yes. Well. Shall we begin?
'Jarrod Smith? Can you please give us your report into the Black Hills Case’.
‘I believe Jarrod is still at lunch Sir. Shall I deliver the report instead’?
‘Are you up to date on it’?
‘I wrote it’.
‘Oh. Yes, please do then’.
It was a great meeting. Elizabeth presented her case flawlessly and every woman in the room had had something useful to contribute. Several others delivered the presentations they’d also prepared for male colleagues. And in spite of the old ‘women talk too much’ myth, they finished half an hour early.
A week later, Elizabeth felt herself deflate as she headed into the meeting room. Every seat at the table was taken up by a man who’d been too busy lunching to bother turning up the week before. The women were once again standing against the back wall. Then, as quickly as she’d felt her spirits drop, she felt her temper rise. She was about to open her mouth when Mr Harris walked in. He looked at Elizabeth, giving her a slight nod, and sat down.
‘Right, those of you who missed last weeks meeting due to your lunch engagement, please get up from the table and stand against the back wall’.
There was a murmur in the room as the men at the table looked at each other. Slowly, the began to get up, until only 2 men remained seated.
‘The women who were here last week, please talk your seats at the table’.
The murmur this time was more of a rumble. Elizabeth rather enjoyed it as she took her seat.
‘Let’s begin. Ms James, where are you at with the Black Hills case?