It’s not just librarians who suffer from stereotyping

Unfortunately, lawyers get it too…and one of the best (for best, read “irritating and patronising”) ones is the Legally Blonde female lawyer.

Y’know – that attractive yet dumb blonde girl who floats through life, until an major event makes her re-evaluate everything, and then she works her socks off to show everyone how smart she really is?

Seems like the BBC have been watching a few too many repeats of that film recently, judging from their reporting of this story (although Legally Blonde isn’t specifically mentioned in the report).

Look: she’s blonde!
Look: she’s pretty!
Look: she used to work in a beauty-based job! That means she must be stupid!
Look: she went to court to battle on her Mum’s behalf! Isn’t that an unexpected event!
Look: she’s studied to become a lawyer! And excelled at her studies!
Look: she’s actually really, really smart! Who could have imagined?

Dear god – all it needs is her bust size, and a hint that she’ll be sleeping with powerful people in law firms in order to get a job, and it could be a Daily Mail report.

Really, BBC, is this the best way you could report this? The undertone of surprise that someone female, blonde and pretty could also actually be really rather intelligent, and able to make full use of an amazing opportunity when it’s presented to her, is quite disturbing. For a profession that’s working its socks off to try and address inequalities in the representation of women, this sort of patronising reporting undermines everything that women in law have worked so hard to get…you know, that small thing called “recognition of their equal skills”?