Woman Learns to Swear in Order to Make Partner

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On October 12th the legal newspaper The Recorder ran a story on Judy O'Brien, who is now general counsel at a Bay Area startup called Obopay, and was formerly a partner in the Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.  In fact, O'Brien was the first woman ever to make partner at that firm when she did so in 1984.  The article focuses partly on the work-life-balance issues women in particular still face, and partly on how O'Brien was able to succeed within the "macho Silicon Valley culture of lawyers and engineers" that was probably mas macho back then.

Among other things, she learned how to swear:

[A]t Wilson Sonsini, a firm never known for its gentility, she taught herself to swear and tell dirty jokes.  She would practice swearing at home with her husband, Brad O'Brien, also a Wilson partner.

"I didn't swear before this, and I would say, 'Oh, shit,' and my husband would say, 'That's not the way to say it,'" she said, laughing.  "So I actually got quite good at swearing."

Hopefully women can succeed these days without learning to swear, assuming they don't want to swear, although the ones I know are pretty good at it.  But then maybe they have had similar training.