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Are You an Ivanka or a Megan?

Vivia Chen

July 15, 2019


So many role models for women these days! My goodness, where do we begin?

Let’s see, there are Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, both of whom can hold their own in contorting the truth. Actually, they’re much more accomplished than some of the men in the Trump administration. (Remember how pained Sean Spicer looked when he had to defend his boss?)

On the left, the obvious star du jour is damn-the-consequences Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who always seem so frickin’ sure she’s right. She’s even picking on her elders, accusing folks like Nancy Pelosi of being tools of the patriarchy.

And speaking of the speaker, can we point out that Pelosi is a role model for both women and the geriatric set? The woman is 78, and she’s kicking butt—usually Trump’s, though she can also herd the unruly lefties of her party. (Pelosi told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, “If the left doesn’t think I’m left enough, so be it.”) May we all be so glorious (and glam) at that age!

But let’s narrow our focus to two who’ve been dominating the news: Ivanka Trump and Megan Rapinoe.

Which one do you identify with? I know, you think I’m asking a trick question.

Your answer: Rapinoe. No brainer. She’s bold, brave and authentic. Plus, she’s a bona fide winner. And everyone loves winners, especially our Dear Leader.

Well, ladies, Rapinoe might be the one you think you aspire to be, but here’s the brutal reality: If you’re looking for a corporate role model, Ivanka is your gal!

Poor Ivanka. I don’t think she’s getting enough credit for doing everything ambitious women are supposed to do. She really follows the Lean In script.

Remember how Sheryl Sandberg told women that they hang back too much and need to sit at the table? Well, brave Ivanka always sits at the table. Last year, she briefly substituted for her father and plopped herself right onto his chair during the summit meeting of the G20 in Hamburg, Germany.

And this year, she was there again at the G20 meeting in Japan. This time, however, she wasn’t just warming a chair. During a pow-wow among French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, Ivanka asserted herself in the discussion—just like female lawyers and other professionals have been told to do.

Maybe you saw the video in which Ivanka desperately tries to join the discussion. She made some lame comment about how the defense industry is all “male dominated.” The upshot: All the muckety-mucks sort of dissed her; and Lagarde, in particular, gave her a look of disdain, as if Ivanka had just crawled out of a rock. That Lagarde is such a meanie!

But like a Jack-In-the-Box, Ivanka keeps popping up. After the G20 meeting, she dashed off to North Korea with her father to meet Kim Jong-Un, or as New York Times columnist Frank Bruni describes it, “With Daddy she swanned toward the Hermit Kingdom, testing the boundaries of Take Our Daughters to Work Day.”

Bruni can be so brutal. OK, so most of us don’t have a rich and powerful daddy who can grant our wildest wishes. But let’s not get technical.

Anyway, for someone who’s worked so hard at being such a pleasant package (lesson 101 from the women’s success book: Be likable), Ivanka gets a lot of grief. She’s also so poised and polite. (You won’t catch her uttering the “F” word in public the way Rapinoe does.)

Ivanka is a walking example of all the advice women have been getting over the years: She puts herself out there, she sits at the table, she interjects, and she’s always ready with a big smile in those photo-ops with the rich and the powerful.

And, oh, you know how women often underestimate their skills and don’t apply for promotions? Well, you can’t say about Ivanka! She’s a true believer in that “fake it until you make it” stuff—even if it’s 99% faking it.

And just like the rest of us working gals, she keeps on trying and gets nowhere.

Told ya. We’re just like Ivanka.


Contact Vivia Chen at vchen@alm.com. On Twitter: @lawcareerist. 


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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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