Babinec 1 Gina Babinec 11/18/2013 COMM 280 Kurtz Research Proposal Introduction My mother graduated from law school in 1987 and immediately began working at as a staff attorney for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee. After three years of working there, she met a powerful leading lawyer from a bankruptcy firm in Chicago, who offered her a job representing debtors in Illinois and Indiana. In 1993, three years into working for this firm, she became pregnant with me. When she went in to talk to her boss about maternity leave, to say that he did not receive the news very well is an understatement. He was “rude and disrespectful,” as my mother put it when I asked her a few questions on this topic, and flat out told her he would not pay her if she took maternity leave. Appalled and angered at this blatant display of discrimination, my mother worked until the day she went into labor in the middle of court. In the time between delivering the news to her boss and delivering me, she told me that the workplace became increasingly hostile as time went on. “There really is no other word for it,” she told me in our interview. “It was simply a hostile, uncomfortable environment for a pregnant woman.” She reported to me that large law firms, including the one she was working at, don’t promote women in who were in their twenties and thirties because they assumed they would get pregnant and take time off of work. They also hated to hire mothers due to the responsibilities of having a child because they assumed they wouldn’t give the firm 100% effort.
2 Because of these standards, in 1996, my mother went to her boss and notified him that she would be leaving the firm to start her own practice. With this news, he told her that if she didn’t leave, he would “make her a partner, or something.” After years of putting up with her boss and the hostile work environment that he let slide (as well as contributed to), my mother finally had the opportunity to work alongside him instead of under him. However, she declined, telling him that she already made up her mind. She left that firm and has worked at her own for around 15 years now, running her business in the fair way that employees and clients deserve to be treated. Being an experienced lawyer of over 30 years of work, I trust my mother’s professional accounts fully and completely. I’ve also always known these stories—but it was not until now that I sat down and specifically asked her about them with the intent to analyze the actual treatment and the effects of this discrimination. It has been since I was a young girl that my mom warned me to always stand up for myself and my womanhood by telling me stories of working at a restaurant as a teenager where her grimy boss would slap the girl waitresses’ behinds as they walked past and called them names like “toots” and “sweetheart”, or how her family didn’t believe she would make it to or through college because she was not just the first woman in her family to go to school, but the first person overall.
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