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News Briefs—Ex–Akin Gump Lawyer Is New Katie Couric; Red Lipstick Can Increase Earnings + More

Vivia Chen

July 11, 2012

Savannah_Guthrie_WikipediaThere are lots of ways for a woman to shape her career and life. Here are some random lessons from the trenches:

1. Look, Mom, what I can do with a law degree! The new host(ess) of The Today Show, Savannah Guthrie, is a 2002 Georgetown Law Center grad. Like Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who leaped into broadcasting after practicing at Jones Day's Washington, D.C., office, Guthrie paid her dues in Big Law—at Akin Gump as a litigation associate. (Hey, why do D.C. women lawyers get all the sexy jobs? Are women in New York working so hard that they look too haggard for prime time?)

Alas, Guthrie is not just a pretty face. Her Wikipedia entry says she is an Order of the Coif member and magna cum laude grad of Georgetown and scored first place on the Arizona bar exam. And now she's making obscene amounts of money.

Okay, are we all depressed?

2. Fashion newsflash: Wear red lipstick! I have absolutely no idea if this works in a corporate setting, but French researchers found that women who wore red lipstick cleaned up on tips in a recent study. Reports Wynne Parry, a science writer at the Huffington Post:

Vintage_Chanel_Lipstick_Ad"Researchers had seven waitresses wear red, pink, brown, or no lipstick while serving 447 customers in three restaurants in the town of Vannes. In France, tipping is unusual because a 12 percent service charge is included in the price of the menu item.

"The researchers, Nicolas Guéguen and Céline Jacob of the Université de Bretagne-Sud, found that male patrons gave tips more frequently to waitresses wearing red lipstick than to other waitresses, and, when they tipped, they gave more. This effect was found only for the red lipstick, not the other colors.

"A waitress's lipstick or lack of it appeared to make no difference in how female patrons tipped."

So should you dash out and buy a tube of Chanel lipstick in a luscious shade of cherry red for early interview week to increase your chance of a callback? Well, why not? Red is associated with power, boldness, and sexiness. So maybe that's the right signal to send.

But keep this in mind: Make sure the hiring partner is male if you decide to pursue the red lipstick strategy.

3. Ambitious women: You will be punished. Didn't I tell you that Anne-Marie Slaughter's article would aid and comfort the enemy? Slaughter's "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" essay in The Atlantic is fueling all sorts of  "I told you so" rants by traditionalists. One of the most strident comes from Suzanne Venker in The National Review, who rails against feminism:

And just what is that feminist credo? That women should consider children as appendages to their main life’s purpose. To live what feminists insist is the only life worthy of respect, women must devote their lives to their careers. The kids will be fine.

But the kids are not fine, as Ms. Slaughter courageously admits.

Anne-Marie Slaughter did what she was told to do by her feminist sisters—and she took it to the max. She graduated from Princeton University in 1980, from Oxford University in 1982, from Harvard Law School in 1985, and from Oxford again in 1992. The bulk of her life has been spent in academia, and she is currently a professor at Princeton, though her titles and duties over the years have been varied.

Slaughter also delayed motherhood as long as possible. This decision culminated in a “nightmare,” as Slaughter spent valuable money and energy trying to conceive her two boys at the final hour.

Okay, I got the message: Pursue a career and you will find yourself barren—physically and spiritually. And if you do manage to have children (after spending gobs of money on fertility treatments), your children will be damaged, and you will regret your life forever.

Thanks. We needed that.

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Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.


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Venker's piece was a bit, right? She wasn't serious?

Both Suzanne Venker and Anne-Marie Slaughter are doing a serious disservice to women AND men by looking at this issue through a lens about 25 years old. Why are Ms. Slaughter's family problems a women's issue? In my 25-year career I have worked with countless men who face these same issues; when their jobs demand long hours and lots of travel, their children often suffer and many have made the choice to pursue a more family-friendly position. We are all in the same rat-race, whether male or female.

Conservative does not equal doormat. I agree with V.J. - Suzanne Venker doesn't speak for all of us!

i really love your column--your take is so refreshing and, most importantly, you see the world much the way i do. Thanks so much!!! i need to have your reality check every day--it helps keep me sane in a completely insane world.

Dear Vivia:

I am a conservative woman and I certainly do NOT share Suzanne Venker's opinions. I believe it is absurd that in the 21st Century the workplace continues to refuse to acknowledge that women - and only women - bear children and that if we as a nation want to move ahead economically and socially, we must accept this reality stop making it so difficult for working mothers (and fathers).

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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