I Can Practice Law, but It’s Not Like I’m Getting Married, Right?

Brittany Berckes | June 29, 2015

Right? Wrong. A plea for fellow women to celebrate major career accomplishments with fervor!

man-repeller-lawyer-marriage-with-logo

But if you are getting married, whose last name is being taken?

On April 27, 2015, at 4:57 PM, I, along with 3,996 others, received an email from the New York State Board of Law Examiners with information on how I fared on the February New York State Bar Exam.

“Dear Candidate,” it read, “The State Board of Law Examiners congratulates you on passing the New York State Bar Examination held on February 24-25, 2015.” The letter went on, but I immediately stopped reading after “congratulates” and cried into my parents’ arms. I passed the bar. I could be a real lawyer.

Throughout my many weeks of preparation, friends would say, “The bar exam is just a test,” but it’s not just a test. It’s a barrier in front of a job that thousands of people have spent years studying for, eradication of massive student debt, and lifelong goals. It requires isolation during months of studying and heroic stress management skills. And even after all of that preparation, 57% of exam takers failed this past February’s New York exam.

Despite the impact passing has on my career, I was tentative about celebrating my bar exam success because at my age — 27, weddings, bachelorette parties, and wedding showers still seem to be the events in women’s lives that merit the most celebration and schedule rearranging.

This suspicion was confirmed when a close friend told me she would not be able to make my bar exam celebration, a casual stop-by-when-you-can-happy-hour, because she had to “prepare” for another friend’s wedding shower the following day. Although completely unintentional on her part, much of my excitement to celebrate this next step in my life was extinguished. I passed the bar, but it’s not like I’m getting married, right?

A 2011 Catalyst Report titled “The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All the Right Things Really Get Women Ahead?” found that the most effective strategy for woman to get ahead in the workplace was to make their achievements known, whether by ensuring their managers were aware of their accomplishments or asking for a deserved raise. The report found that this self-promotion was the only strategy associated with compensation growth for women.

But, how can women make their accomplishments known in the workplace when we’re told by those closest to us that the events we should celebrate loudly and proudly have nothing to do with our careers? It’s no wonder women downplay their career successes when the biggest parties thrown for women by women don’t center on the new promotion; they focus on the new ring or hyphenated last name.

This is not to say that engagements and weddings don’t deserve the adulation they currently receive, but they shouldn’t be the only events in a woman’s life that get special treatment. Women need to celebrate their friends’ career achievements with the same fervor and excitement that they celebrate their friends’ weddings and baby showers. We should rearrange our schedules to fit in our friend’s promotion party because the promotion is just as crucial as a marriage is to creating her happy, fulfilling life.

So buy that bottle of champagne for your friend’s engagement, yes, but if she gets placed into her first choice medical residency program, send flowers for that, too. She may have dated the guy she’s marrying for two years, but she’s been working on becoming a doctor for much, much longer.

Illustrations by Autumn Kimball

celebrate-no-marriage-linda-rodin

  • Rhia B.

    I would have come to your happy hour, Brittany, and sent a real, hand-written celebratory card, too. Congratulations to you, and thanks for writing this piece.

  • This is SUCH an important point, SO brilliantly written. Thank you for it.

  • Teresa

    I really get where you are coming from. Next May I will turn 35 and around that time finally finish my Bachelors degree. After working full time and spending 4 years going to school year round, you bet I’m throwing a party for myself. I started planning it just last week in fact. And you know I have a pair of dream, ass kicking, these boots were made for walking all over life, on order to walk across the graduation platform with. I’m giving myself a huge hell yeah pat on the back

    We need to celebrate the momentous occasions in our lives that help define us as individuals. Marriages and births always tie us to another person–bring on the party to mark milestones, and I love your sentiments about supporting our friends through theirs. Brittany you rock! And CONGRATS!!!!

  • I’m 26, and some people from my childhood have gotten or are getting married. It seems like the wedding rituals have extended towards posting elaborate gifts and cards titled “She said yes!” when asking your BFF to be your bridesmaid and expensive bridal showers with white dresses and wedding cakes. This is no longer the “most important day” of our lives, but a year and a half of expensive celebrations leading up to one day.

    Which I’m not criticizing, to each to her own. But the “Say Yes to the Dress” culture gets grating when our career accomplishments aren’t celebrated or regarded with the same enthusiasm. Why can’t we have a lighthearted TV show called Say Yes to the Job Offer?

    • Lua Jane

      This is also very, very true. Marriage is not about elaborate dress, expensive ad ridiculous engagemenr party, and terorizing your closests on your wedding year, as modern pop culture seems to be trying to portray. It’s about sharing greatest, and also lowest points of your existence with another person you love and trust enough. Maybe this mindframe of mine kept me unmarried, but if marriage today is showing of a husband as aprized possession, and parading in a terrible dress, then it’s kinda lost a point.

      • One day you’ll find someone who feels the same too!

        • Lua Jane

          Maybe I will. Hopefully not in a retirement home 😀

          • Sonya

            I agree with you so much! It is not about the wedding, the important part is the marriage, the relationship. I also hope I find someone to share my life with before I’m in a retirement home!

      • So true, one reason I dread marriage (not partnership) is because it is so focused on material things and parading those material things to all the people you have met. I am all about the courthouse… we all know the honeymoon is the best part anyway lol

        • Lua Jane

          Exactly. Much better spent money then wining and dining hundreds of cousins and “friends” you haven’t seen in years, just to impres people.

      • But I think you are right Lua. Sometimes I think in the whole drama of a wedding, people forget about the marriage.

  • kduck

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I feel like there’s a lesson here that can be applied to so many aspects of our lives. If you want others to see something as important/special/whatever, be the one who instigates the celebration!

  • Honestly loved this article!! I pursued a career in NYC before kids and it became the foundation and grit I am made of. Now having kids but still working I don’t regret going for it! Loved illustrating your writing Brittany!

    • Brittany Berckes

      thank you doesn’t quite feel adequate but it’s all i got: THANK YOU for such a clever and beautiful illustration, Autumn, and congrats on everything…from building a career in NYC to being an artist to being a mother!

  • Aubrey

    I want to go to happy hour with you! Let’s celebrate intelligence as well as the fluffy dresses. There is room for both and I love that this article acknowledged that. Massive congratulations to you and good luck with your career!

  • Congratulations for passing the bar!! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  • AlexaJuno

    A friend and I are writing a pilot, so we signed up for a 7-hour TV Writing intensive and paid a nice chunk of change for it up front. Other friend gets engaged after the fact and decides she wants to have a barbecue to ask her friends to be in her wedding party the same day. She then proceeds to ream my writing partner out for “not supporting her” by being late to this largely unnecessary event by honoring plans she already had to do something to better her future. This is AFTER we had each spent a good amount of money making her an engagement gift basket. All the other bridesmaids were in agreement that this was an egregious offense.

    Never once has anyone asked how that pilot is coming though.

    And congrats on your success. My sister is a lawyer, the bar exam is not only a test of intellect, it is a test of will. Good on ya.

    • Lua Jane

      Serious case of bridezilla bitching, I’d say. Hope to be watching your pilot, and a show some day soon!

      • AlexaJuno

        Thanks for the support ladies. Amazing how doing the most grown up thing a person can do turns fully adult women into whining children.

    • you go, girls. i can’t wait to see what becomes of it all.

  • Elizabeth Manchester

    Well written piece – Thanks for sharing

  • I feel like a close friend should have known how hard you worked for this accomplishment and what a big deal it is, Brittany – so that must have been really disappointing.

    Perhaps something we can do to help each other is to remind each other that it’s okay to celebrate, take the compliment, tell people what you’re doing, while still being gracious of course, but without downplaying it. And also to make a point of being thoughtful and supportive. I know this is something I’ve been working on really seriously lately – by being inspired by people who do take the time to show up or send thoughtful cards, and realizing how much that really does mean, even if it seems small.

    You are amazing! And congratulations!

  • EMCamp1014

    So glad I read this while taking a break from studying for the July bar. Congrats to you and here’s to hoping I’m getting to celebrate in a few months too!

    • The Tumblr, Bros at the Bar also makes for good bar-study-break-reading, in case you need more!

    • OH and GOOD LUCK! YOU CAN DO IT!

    • Good luck!!! Studying for my country’s bar soon too 🙂

    • Brittany Berckes

      “this too shall pass and so will you.”

  • Congratulations! Would have loved to celebrate your achievement with you, too, and feel happy for you – I actually do, even as a stranger.

  • I’ve noticed in my own life that this became an even bigger problem AFTER I got married. It’s like after I changed my last name, my career suddenly got dropped from the conversation. People went from asking me about my career to make small talk, to badgering me about why I’m not pregnant yet.

    I won a teaching award last year, and I can’t tell you how deflating it is to tell someone you have exciting news, and their face falls with disappointment when you tell them you were nominated for and won a highly competitive award by your peers…not that you’re pregnant. That kind of stings a bit.

    My uterus may be empty, but my brain isn’t!

    ps: CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You should be immensely proud of your hard work! Now go be the most badass lawyer there is!

    • Brittany Berckes

      can i get “my uterus may be empty, but my brain isn’t” on a t-shirt?

    • Congrats to you too! 🙂

    • Patricia C

      YES! I’ve passed the bar – in NY and NJ, mind you – been offered great job opportunities, etc… But all anyone cares about is when I’m getting engaged. And that stings… A lot.

  • Lua Jane

    Amazing and so on point. It’s sad that in this day and age, we’re still silently pushed, even by our closest and dearest to embrace marriage and motherhood as only two accomplishments, woman has right to be proud of and celebrate. Yes, both of those matter, and are big steps in life, but are not the only ones. Women are doctors, lawyers, CEOs, great designers, and all that is worth celebrating, and speaking of. I personally find this important, because like you, I’m a lawyer, but also I am someone who is unmarried at the ripe age of 32, and probably wont marry at all. It’s a question of choice, yes, but even so, I want to be appreciated and celebrated by those I love, and love me.

    • I really think the adage that “if something is easy, everyone will do it” applies here. A majority of the population gets married and has kids. Passing the bar on the other hand…

  • This echoes a bit of the whole conversation of women being unapologetic for what they do. Every woman has different priorities, and every woman has a right to celebrate every milestone! Especially passing the freakin’ bar exam. Honestly, I’d pop a bottle of champagne every time I decide to actually get out of bed on a weekend. When it comes to self-promotion, it seems as though changing the status on LinkedIn or Facebook or even dropping a hint on Instagram is subtle & just enough. NAHHHH, we gotta be like our moms at a party when they used to brag about how we just learned how to use the toilet or properly use a curse word.

  • CarlotaLMorais

    AMEN!!!

  • DUDE, yes. Passing the bar is a hugeee accomplishment. Getting married is an important decision and a fun event, but it’s not an accomplishment. Congratulations to you, from someone who has somewhat recently passed the (Washington state) bar.

    • Brittany Berckes

      thank you and you too!!

  • what!! CELEBRATE IT!!!! you friends need to make time and acknowledge your accomplishments!

    http://www.flightofspice.com

  • GROAN. Ugh, how horrible.

    Congrats on passing the bar though!

  • Sarah Moore

    Yes! When I got admitted to the bar it didn’t really cause a ripple. This was in New Zealand though, where you don’t take an exam, you’ve been taking them right through 4 years of a law degree, then there’s a 4 month legal practice certificate. Still, it’s important.

    What gets me is recently I bought my first flat. I’m living in London now, unmarried, and while my parents helped out with the deposit there is no one here to guarantee my mortgage, I had to get that thing all on my own (after a career tangent, I’m one of the 2/3 of women who drop out of a legal career). I found a new career, I worked my way up, I saved money, all the time still living like a student. I feel like this is my greatest achievement and all I got was a few cards and one bottle of champagne from a friend who “got” it.

  • This is amazing, and so true! I am currently working on my Masters in the Sociology of Law, after working my ass off to obtain an LLB and couldn’t agree more!

  • lisbette

    Not only do I wholeheartedly agree, not only have I been way, way there– & stayed for a long time– but there’s this aspect:

    Marriage can be great, kids are fantastic, yet there’s NOTHING like having earned the ability to support yourself, plus any children you may have, BY YOURSELF!

    I get why the celebrations are for the romance & the children. But as women we’re cheating ourselves by refusing a deep acknowledgment that–no matter how much fun the flowers, cake, jewels, and lace–the person one marries may die, become disabled, or just be insufferable.

    The sticky, hopelessly tangled knot of these two dynamics (prizing the bride, muffling the possibility of who she is on her own) is largely why women have always been endangered. Dearly wish we could turn this around.

    You’ve freed yourself! Go, dear sister!

  • Erika

    Thanks so much for this Brittany and CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    http://www.polkadotsandcandybars.com

  • Sonya

    Congratulations on passing the bar! Getting married is great and something I look forward to one day because I would like to spend my life with someone I love. However, I don’t consider it an accomplishment to get married. I am not belittling marriage at all, it is something I want for myself but one does not study for hours on end to pass something to be married, its more of a numbers game and luck to meet someone and be compatible. Passing the New York Bar exam is truly an accomplishment and a milestone. Cheers to you and your success!

  • This is the most incredible MR article I’ve ever read. I’m currently sharing this aloud at the office.

  • Actually, now that I think about… I recently saw a mutual friend on Instagram throw a party upon her recent graduation. Most of her friends are married and attended. They all seemed so exuberant about it. So I think we do celebrate accomplishment’s the same way we do wedding celebrations. (Or at least people are starting to, which gives me hope that we all will some day)

  • Rosaly

    Congrats! I will totally drink a glass for you. I feel like its super important for people my age to read this (im 21) because we often feel rushed to do things when we really shouldn’t. CHEERS!

  • Caro

    I love this! Brava. Reminds me of that episode of SATC where Carrie thinks all the single people get the short end of the stick…except this idea makes me want to move forward and in the direction of my goals outside of finding l-o-v-e.

  • SChase

    Endless applause for this! And these celebrations don’t come with registries! All the more reason to attend!

  • Catherine

    Marriage is not an accomplishment. It’s a choice.

  • Absolutely love this.

  • Aubrey Green

    Congratulations. Loved the writing :). Oh, and cheers in spirit.

  • This is such an important point – women should celebrate reaching milestones in one’s career, especially one that someone has worked so hard for. So, a big congratulations on passing the bar exam; such an amazing accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated! I hope that in the end, you had an great celebration with your friends and family on this milestone, and good luck for the future!

    Emily | Always Emily

  • R. Leonard

    This article makes me happy. It presents a point of view that I vehemently agree with, without bashing the wedding culture that others are so fond of. Kudos!

  • Loved this. LOVED.

    Georgina
    foxonthehunt.com

  • MilkVelvet

    Never thought of it in this way and maybe it’s because we’ve been so brain washed into needing to shout out about only certain things. This is a great article. Congrats to you!

    http://www.milkandvelvet.com

  • Super congrats. This IS one of the biggest accomplishments most people achieve in their lives. Then again… don’t downplay this blog either. This shit is great!

  • Tania

    Amen! And Congratulations. Lately I’ve been thinking that my career goals as so far fetch and my mind “naturally” wandered to: “Meet and marry a great man, buy a house” egh. While I do still intend on meeting and marrying my own mirror (a la Justin Timberlake), I believe personal goals and accomplishments that we authentically want and earn are so important for establishing and reinforcing parts of our self-worth, value and character.

  • ccohen415

    I love this article! There is so much fanfare around weddings, from engagement party to bachelorette party to bridal shower to rehearsal dinner (not to mention the actual wedding), buying dresses and shoes and gifts and writing poems and getting flash tattoos and on and on… Two people fall in love and suddenly it’s justifiable to spend what amounts to the price of a used Honda on a dress you’ll wear for approximately 6 hours.

    Certainly we should celebrate happy couples and commitment to love, but there’s no reason that accomplishments like yours don’t deserve some fanfare as well!

  • Brittany Berckes

    yes! how’s the pilot coming??

  • Leslie Hitchcock

    Hear fucking hear!

  • Greer

    OH SHIT THIS IS GOOD

  • penny

    Congratulations on passing the bar and on this piece. I watched the Linda Rodin interview yesterday before reading this and can’t thank you and your MR colleagues enough. Suddenly I feel like there might be more women on the planet like me. I never married but have three children, am working through a degree, work part time and am starting my own business. And I’m very happy!

  • kayyzee

    I love this. I know I’m not alone now :). I’ll celebrate for you!

  • Lola Channing

    . In what world are weddings/parties/engagements celebrated with more fervor than academic or professional accomplishments? Not where I come from so I am confused by this post.

  • Andrea Loh

    So true. Thank you for reminding us women that the only group of people that can make us count is us, women. cheers 😉

  • So true, all of our accomplishments should be rewarded! It starts with us, today i am going to start patting myself on the back for everything I have achieved… here is to tooting our own horn! Beep beep

  • Lulu

    Honestly I think this sounds really bitter and nasty. I have both a PhD and a marriage and I never thought I “deserved” praise or recognition for either. I garnered much more praise and adulation for my marriage bc it was, in my mind, a bigger deal in the sense that it affected my friends and family whereas my career achievements were more personal. My degrees were for me, full stop. And my family sacrificed so I could achieve my degree. Stop making false dichotomies, it reeks of fake feminism.

  • Apeksha Udeshi

    Bravo! Bravvisimo!!

  • gg

    We don’t celebrate most people’s career accomplishments with parties and gifts, save for the typical high school/college graduation party. Marriages and births are celebrated so loudly because they are expressions of new life and love, new journeys, and togetherness. It’s the same reason funerals are so important – we gather together to commemorate someone’s life and the love we felt for them, while acknowledging our loss. Do I think we need to spend so much money on wedding showers and bachelorette parties? No, not really, but I understand why some people want them that way. Getting a new job or graduating school are impressive and should be acknowledged, but they aren’t celebrated for the same reasons; they are about self-promotion and personal accomplishment. It isn’t the same type of sentiment. It’s something you can celebrate for yourself and you can ask others to join in, but frankly, I think it’s self-centered to expect others to relate to it, and rearrange their schedules to celebrate it; inviting someone to a party is one thing, being upset with them for not coming because they had previous plans that centered around someone else’s celebration is another. Your friends can’t always put you first, and they can’t always afford to take off work for your party or send you a bouquet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t proud of you. You shouldn’t expect them to validate the career goals that you set for yourself with champagne and greeting cards.

    • Let me politely disagree: passing the bar (and similar) is certainly not just about self-promotion and personal accomplishment. She is going to contribute to her society by way of her knowledge, her work and her future promotions and of course the specific and/or general life-long learning such “papers” make available. She will very probably serve as a role model for her and other people’s children – I think we can agree it is a win-win. A win for her, a win for her society.
      Newlyweds have yet to prove they will manage to achieve anything of the kind 🙂
      It’s just that marriages are much more common, everyone knowing a bunch of people who got married or being married and feeling weddings are a … known territory. “Even if hers was better than mine, I still got my share by criticising the flower arrangement.” But the bar? Nothing to feel personally victorious about there, right?

      Says one who gets praised by her husband for studying law (part time), let alone for passing an exam or two within a few years, which is generally a good reason to party. And who eloped to avoid any wedding circus.

  • Lou

    Love this! Kind of what I was trying to achieve with this article: http://vagendamagazine.com/2014/05/baby-shower-of-shit-why-i-cant-get-on-board-with-these-twee-prepartum-parties/
    but much better expressed – I’m inspired to go and hone my writing skills now. And for what it’s worth, I got literally dozens more Facebook likes for getting engaged than for getting first-class honours in my law degree. Never mind that you spent 3 years and thousands of pounds and ran yourself into the ground reading and writing law stuff at all hours of the night, YOU GOT ENGAGED! OMG IT’S LIKE HAVING A BOYFRIEND FOR LIFE!!!
    Congrats on the bar pass, what a fantastic achievement xx

  • Mell

    Generally speaking, I think the sentiment here is spot on, but I think you’re being a little hard on your friend. Yes, as a close pal, she probably should have recognized the hard work you put in to passing the bar…but didn’t you also contribute to the devaluation of your accomplishment by having a “casual” and “stop-by-when-you-can” event? That description to me says that you presented it as unimportant. It’s totally understandable because of everything else you’ve said — god forbid anyone should be single — but I think it’s also up to us to make it a priority to celebrate the things that are personally important to us. Some people will always bail, but I just wonder if you would’ve gotten more support from your friend if you’d planned a celebratory dinner at a nice restaurant, better conveying what this accomplishment means to you?

  • TRISTVN SKPN

    Let’s FUCKING start taking women seriously everywhere, I hate this last century bullshit. Women are people and have accomplishments and careers these days, how can mundane crap eclipse that?

  • Jessica Peterson

    That’s good stuff.

  • Denise Haber

    Congratulations on passing the bar. And even I choose my career over getting married. I mean, I just spent the last 5 years of my life in law school and I sure as hell would want to reap the benefits of the hard work, rather than getting married.
    http://www.iamj.es/

  • kate

    I celebrated my bar exam passage AND when I got sworn in! Celebrate everything!

    • Brittany Berckes

      CONGRATS! CONGRATS! getting sworn in next week and planning to celebrate too 🙂

      • kate

        Congrats to you!!!! I’ll admit I passed the bar and was sworn in back in 2012, but I appreciate a congrats none-the-less, even two years later 🙂

      • kate

        Congrats to you!!!! I will admit that I passed the bar and was sworn in back in 2012, but I appreciate the congrats none-the-less, even three years later 🙂

  • Estee Lifshitz

    Yes, yes, yes to all this. And congratulations on passing the bar! It’s a beast.

  • Paulina Alvarado Serrano

    Yes hi!! I just came back from a family vaycay to Baja for my grandmas birthday with family I havent seen in 8 years. I was shooocked at my “statistics” throughout my trip.. I just graduated University in June and the number of times I was asked if i had a boyfriend in comparison to if I had a job yet was actually appalling- not once was I asked about my career???? While I understand that women’s roles in Mexico have been and still are absolutely 100% kitchen oriented, it’s truly outrageous how much the ring outweighs a woman’s career, globally.

    I think the only way society’s current state of glorifying getting wifed up is of use, is by wife-ing up, then immediately popping out babies that live, breathe and sweat equality and respect !!

    • Paulina Alvarado Serrano

      and freaking congrats on passing the bar!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Gabrielle Warren

    It’s small things like these that push women as a whole to accomplish their goals. It’s funny how a seemingly small gesture like not acknowledging academic success can be discouraging.

  • CameronY

    Well said! Congrats and passing the bar!

  • Sylwia

    Thank you!

  • Kelsey O’Donnell

    My sweet sorority pledge class, many of whom got married 1-3 yrs out of college, bought me a kitchen aid to celebrate my graduation from law school. It was so awesome.

  • Szia Ujj

    Too often have my friends not celebrated not only intellectual but pivotal personal milestones that don’t involve marriage or the fact you have found another ‘entity to complete you’. You, complete you. Great piece!

  • CH

    When you talk about Match Day for residency and your mother tells you “I hope you match to a husband”…

    Thank you for writing my thoughts

  • I’m late to the party but I just came across your post. It really resonated with me – and I blog about weddings! Thanks for sharing – it inspired me to write my own recent post looking at what we celebrate and why attention is given to certain life events. Thank you and congratulations!

  • SmileyT

    Congrats on passing the bar!

    Although I want to implore all women to stop with this comparing of career accomplishment celebrations to comparing of wedding celebrations. It really is an apples and oranges issue. Even for men, people do not celebrate their promotions or degrees/certificates in the same fervor as a wedding. A wedding is something completely different – two people/ two families/ communities coming together. It is at the end of the day a very group involved event.

    In any case, I actually tested to see what would happen when I posted a picture of my masters’ degree in engineering on Facebook. I got almost the same amount of likes and congratulations as I did when I posted the photo of my engagement ring. And actually more likes than when I posted a photo of our actual wedding. At least in my own personal life, responses to either event did not seem too disproportionate in others’ happiness for me.

    Let’s expend our efforts on real issues – like equal pay for women! Now that I can get behind 100%!

  • Feminist Patriarch

    “It’s no wonder women downplay their career successes when the biggest parties thrown for women by women don’t center on the new promotion; they focus on the new ring or hyphenated last name.”

    If women want women to come to a bar-party as opposed to an engagement or marriage, find the friends that value that core belief but don’t denigrate the women who still find it more fulfilling to have and celebrate a relationship as opposed to a bigger office. I’m totally for women finding success in careers, but I don’t appreciate it when I read articles that state that “the promotion is just as crucial as a marriage is to creating her happy, fulfilling life.” It’s not. But of course, that depends on whether someone sees marriage as a life-long commitment. If not, then I suppose it does make sense to celebrate them equally since, whenever you want, you can swop spouses as easy as you could swop offices.

    • Rose

      The article doesn’t discuss a ‘bigger office’, but passing an exam to which she has worked towards for an enormous percentage of her life. It discusses celebrating success after decades of proven commitment, as opposed to celebrating success at the start of years of potential commitment.

  • Rose

    Such an important article. Had never really considered how important it is for academic achievements to be celebrated just as much, if not, perhaps a bit more than life events such as marriage. Particularly when ~42% of marriages are dissolved, compared to ~0% of academic degrees.

  • NK

    I am not sure who you hang out with but in my world if someone gets promoted or achieves as a lady celebrate hard!!!
    You assume too much.

  • Deborah Kashyap

    I have to disagree that this is an issue of women’s academic or career achievements being ignored. Marriage is a public union, and (traditionally, but not for all people) a family and community celebration. Passing a licensing test is a laudable but personal accomplishment.

    When I passed the bar, I had a small impromptu celebration with family and friends. Same when I got my first job. When my husband passed each step of his medical licensing, we probably had even smaller celebrations for him than we did for me, just because we were a bit older and his parents aren’t as into throwing parties as my mom is. Same for when he got his residency.

    Did the men you passed the bar with have huge parties thrown for them when they passed the bar, while your female classmates were ignored? If that’s the case, then things have changed since when I went through this about ten years ago. While I understand your point as far as celebrating marriage and the events surrounding it more than we celebrate academic and professional achievement, I don’t think it’s fair to say that you weren’t celebrated because we only celebrate women when they get married.

    Women face plenty of real inequality (especially in the good ol’ boys club of law), but this is not an example of it.

  • Jane

    I appreciate the sentiment of the article but it also kind of annoys me. I think it misses the point of why marriage and babies get more congrats than degrees and accomplishments (which, I’d argue, is a similar experience among men). It’s not because marriage and babies are better than other life accomplishments, it’s because they’re more relatable. Most people have gone to a wedding, the majority will probably get married if they aren’t already (not applicable that it may end in divorce), everyone grew up with a family of some kind (good or bad). People that haven’t been through the hard work it takes to become a doctor, lawyer, PHD, etc. can’t appreciate it and have more trouble relating to it. It’s basically the same as why people talk about the weather. Is it the most interesting conversation? No, but it’s easy! It’s easy to celebrate a wedding or a baby because you’ve done it a million times and you’ve watched a million movies about it and people have been doing it for a really really long time! Stop being so self-centered that everything you do is so important and do it for your own god damn satisfaction. Or maybe throw a party with free booze and you’ll get a lot of congrats! They just want the invite and to see the pics anyway!!

  • Iris Lillian

    This is so en pointe. Thank you Brittany! I totally agree that we ought to celebrate our nearest and dearest’s career achievements with the same fervour as weddings, engagements, babies etc but we might have to shout louder to be heard over the existing dialogue which reflects engrained cultural norms and assumptions. Let’s start speaking up about our achievements and how important they are to us!

    I worked for a really long time to launch my new blog. It was a turning point for me, coming from 10 years as a corporate lawyer. It took courage and determination and is important to me. Some, but few of my friends saw this as an achievement worthy of recognition (not even a text). But, in their defence, I didn’t share with them how much I put into this venture until…well, now! Let’s keep this conversation going, start sharing and work at re-framing those cultural norms ??

    Iris Lillian

  • Lia Cromwell

    Late to the party here but wow thank you for this piece. I’m only 23 so jobs are very much still celebrated in my female friend circle, but we’re slowly moving toward the age of people getting married. (My inner New Yorker cringes at this reality, but alas, I went to college in the south so engagement rings are totally normal to many of my friends.) I plan on sending this piece to all of them. Thank you again. LOVE LOVE LOVE this.

  • Jacqueline Xidis

    How crazy is it that ‘doing it all’ is seen to be less of an accomplishment than compartmentalising life? Why aren’t women congratulating each other for succeeding in jobs just as much as we might congratulate someone for getting married or falling pregnant? It seems counterintuitive, given the amount of pressure women are under these days to have an education, career and a family, that successes in all fields aren’t praised. Lovely post here, and very important considering perhaps women do need reprimanding for our behaviour and attitude towards others and their battles.
    I have created a community, B2B: Babies to Business, and frequently post on this topic surrounding delayed motherhood, ‘do it all’ mentality and women and their struggles in this 21st Century. Check it out at: b2bbabiestobusiness.wordpress.com
    J.X