The Economic Costs of Mansplaining in My Life

  • March 05, 2019
  • Erin C. Cowling, WLF Secretary

Despite the constant reminders that our legal profession is far from reaching any sort of laudable goal when it comes to equality, diversity, and inclusion, I am generally optimistic that things are (slowly) changing for the better. My Twitter feed is filled with amazing diverse lawyers doing amazing things. I see allies speaking up. I see new calls taking a stand and demanding change. I am truly optimistic.

This optimism, however, is often tested (and lately it seems to be tested regularly) by encounters with mansplainers. For those unfamiliar with the (I would argue useful but over-used) term, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “mansplaining” as “to explain something to a woman in a condescending way that assumes she has no knowledge about the topic.”

When I encountered mansplaining early in my career, I didn’t put a label on what was happening as the word was not widely used. I would just leave a conversation or a meeting feeling like a man had figuratively pat me on the head and said “Ahh, how cute”. I would be angry but couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. Now I have no problem recognizing when mansplaining occurs, and I know exactly why I am angry.

Since starting my business Flex Legal Network Inc. in 2015 (a freelance lawyer company matching law firms with freelance lawyers/law clerks), the mansplaining has been off the charts. I will give you just a few of the many examples.