Women’s Equality: How To Make It In A Field Dominated By Men

Womens Equality: How To Make It In A Field Dominated By Men

This past Aug. 26 was Women’s Equality Day, and most young women did not even know it. Fortunately at Mercy College,   Prof. Victoria Roberts-Drogin has reminded the community of how important that day is, and how far women have come.

Roberts-Drogin sat down with WAMC northeast on Women’s Equality Day and spoke about the progress that women have made over the years. In addition to highlighting the success of women over the ages, she also touched on the progress women have yet to make and why. The feature was an interesting one and would make any female Mercy student proud. Recently the Impact was able to sit down with  Roberts-Drogin and ask her some of the questions that we just had to know they answers to.

IMPACT: Tell us a little bit about the path that you took to have a career in business and law.

VRD: I went to college at Wellesley in Boston and graduated with a degree in English literature. I went to law school because my father strongly believed that I needed to obtain some hard skills. I graduated from Hofstra Law and practiced law in the field of insurance and construction. I then became a partner at a Park Avenue law firm. I went to NYU for a certification in organizational and leadership development and got a double certification in executive and life coaching. I wanted to be around human development. I wanted to learn what success meant to different people personally and within business. I then later opened my own consulting group and worked with businesses small and large such as the L’Oreal Company and other small and large tech firms. Once the market started contracting, I became the associate dean at Hofstra Law.

IMPACT: I know we are all aware that there have always been inequalities in the work place. Can you tell us if you ever expected to have to deal with them?

VRD: I knew that I would run into them eventually but I think we have come a long way even though we have a ways to go. There are a lot more opportunities for women and I think that there are more women who are taking the responsibility to make the opportunities for themselves. The gap is closing and you can see that in professional and business schools. When I was in law school it was 51 percent women and pay was commensurate for both men and women if you were just starting out. However, I think that women and men make different choices that in turn impact pay equity.

IMPACT: Have you ever personally experienced sexism (weather intentional or not) in the work place? If so, would you mind sharing an experience with us?

VRD: When I was a very young lawyer I would arrive to court and the judge would say “Honey, when is your boss coming.” It didn’t immediately occur to them that I was the attorney because I was so young, and possibly because I was a woman. However ,I have been fortunate enough to be able to command respect and equal or better pay from my male counterparts because I worked my butt off from morning till 11:30 at night. I was the top biller at my firm so I was able to ask for what I wanted and got it because my superiors respected how much work I put into my job. When I had my daughter I told them that I wanted to work-part time so that I could be there for her. They told me they didn’t have part time positions so I said “Fine, then I will find another job.” They then decided that they would make a part time position because I had shown them that I was worth it through the work that I had done before.

IMPACT: If you could create a survival guide or book of guidelines for young women who are about to enter the work force, what would be five “must do’s” for them?


Work hard. Work harder than anyone else up front and try and build a reputation early on.

  • Find strong mentors both male and female.
  • It will not be easy all the time but always be nice. This does not mean be a pushover it means always say thank you. Praise in public and criticize in private. Do favors for people and support their growth and success. Don’t gossip because it will always come back to haunt you later. Have a friend far outside of work and your field so that you can vent to them.
  • Always dress conservatively. It is tricky but you want to be known for the work that you do, not for the way that you look. Do not distract from your performance and merit.
  • Become financially smart. Learn about finances and how to manage your money. Be financially educated and independent. It will allow you to make choices on how you want to live your life.

IMPACT: Do you have any special advice for our female Impact readers who might be intimidated or who aren’t sure about their futures in fields dominated by men?

VRD: Work as hard as you can, and be patient because it will pay off in stages. A good read is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. She does what she does better than anyone else and she is a perfect example of that advice.