The Women in Business Law Initiative at the UC Berkeley School of Law is designed to address the many challenges to gender equity in law and business. Since its inception in 2016, the Women in Business Law Initiative has offered best-in-class career development, mentorship, and networking programs to help female students and professionals excel both in their lives and their careers. Through meetings, conferences, forums, and tailored programs—such as our established mentorship program—we connect female students to a rich network of other successful women at law firms, in industry, and government.
We seek to address the large gender gaps present in the corporate world. As of May 2018, only 4.8% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women; even though more women than men are currently graduating from college and university. The percentage from 2017 dropped by 25% in 2018, with only 24 female CEO roles in the Fortune 500 companies. Although companies with higher levels of diversity, including gender equity, in executive leadership show higher valuations, greater return on investment and total return on sales, issues around equity and inclusion continue to persist.
Our mission is to help address the issue of gender equity in the workplace on a concrete and individual scale. As a law school, we play a crucial role in facilitating students’ transition from the sphere of academia to the professional world. To bridge these worlds, the Women in Business Law Initiative designed a formal mentorship program for our female J.D. and LL.M. The mentorship program begins during the students’ first year at UC Berkeley School of Law. By supporting our students early on in their careers, we hope to contribute to a more equal and inclusive workforce.