Monday, March 11, 2019

The Marvelous Wonder Women Of Malaysian Moots

Girl power is rising in the Malaysian mooting circuit.

Yet another reason to cheer for International Women's Day.

The facts and figures don't lie. In the last three major mooting competitions in Malaysia, the center-stage of the Finals was dominated by ladies:

LAWASIA 2018: 3/4 Oralists in Finals

IHL 2018: 4/4 Oralists in Finals

Jessup 2019: 4/4 Oralists in Finals

In short, the female representation in Malaysian moot finals in the last year is 91.67%. On top of that, ladies swept all the Best Oralist Awards in those competitions.


Step aside, lads.

* * *

Female domination in mooting is not a recent phenomenon. Even if we look back further into the last 3-5 years, most of the top teams and oralists consisted of ladies.

There are several plausible reasons behind this trend.

Girls outnumber guys in law school.

Girls are more academic and diligent, hence more passionate in mooting.

Girls are more likely to charm the hearts of moot judges, who are predominantly male.

To a certain extent, there's a grain of truth in them.

Guys tend to favour hard sciences and accountancy.

Guys tend to play sports, chase leadership positions in societies, partake in more fast-paced academic pursuits (like debates), and bum around in college.

Guys tend to go 'easy' on female mooters, consciously or subconsciously, hence more generous in grading them.

Nevertheless, such factors shouldn't detract away from the achievements of female mooters. Look beyond mooting and college, and we can similarly trace a trend of female empowerment in society at large.

* * *

It's no secret that female legal associates outnumber their male counterparts by far. However, it's also no secret that men still make up the majority of partners in law firms.

Hence, whilst female mooters kicking ass is a promising sign, it remains to be seen whether their winning streak is sustainable and can truly break the system of patriarchy in the real world in the long run.

Some of the compliments that I've heard national moot judges showering on female mooters strike a chord...

"It's so nice to see four girls mooting for a change!"

"I like your smile!"

"You are so fearless and assertive, young lady!"

Such comments make me feel uneasy. They make me wonder whether the judges would be saying the same if the mooters were male instead. They make me worried that the victories of female mooters may not be entirely based on objective merit.

(Interestingly enough, I've only heard such comments in Malaysia, almost never from judges in International Rounds.)

This relates back to the third reason I alluded earlier. I understand it's driven by human emotion that is hard to shake, but I really do hope the effect is minimal.

I don't feel that it's fair for mooters to be judged by different standards based on gender, race, or traits beyond individual control. Neither is it fair that female mooters get extra marks for being 'assertive' and 'confident', and not male mooters because it's natural and expected of them.

Ultimately, my concern is whether letting female mooters to win the battle will only make them lose the war - by lulling them into complacency, overestimation of their own ability, and false sense of security.

Mean Girlz kicking @55 since 2000.

* * *

It's wonderful that women are kicking ass in the Malaysian mooting scene.

It's wonderful that women are given a platform to shine brightly.

And it will be even more wonderful if women continue to rise through the ranks of legal practice.