Even female attorneys within the highest-ranks of elite law firms are paid, on average, roughly $66,000 less than their male counterparts, according to a new study done by the Project for Attorney Retention and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.
“Frankly, the numbers are so stark that it really does call into question whether there is a systemic problem,” says employment attorney William Martucci. [That’s where the “Uh, you think?” comes into this]
The study, called “New Millennium, Same Glass Ceiling?,” found that the oft-cited explanation for the gap—that family responsibilities mean women are less ambitious, more distracted, and less productive than men—is ultimately an inadequate excuse. The biggest contributing factors, according to the study’s authors, are not nearly as benign: they include stereotyping, gender bias, and even bullying and intimidation.
Really, William Martucci? Who WASN’T questioning whether it was systemic? Oh, that’s right, it’s people who buy into the idea that women are “less ambitious, more distracted, and less productive than men.”
Female lawyers also reported being stymied by the “double bind,” saying that for women it’s virtually impossible to be simultaneously respected and well-liked. “You must engage in self-promotion but you’re penalized for doing so if you’re a woman,” says Joan Williams, a professor at UC’s Hastings College of the Law and an author of the report. But Williams says that she was perhaps most surprised by the fact that the survey respondents were so incensed by their experiences at work, which was made clear through comments they submitted online. “The anger comes from the fact that they see these patterns of gender bias, double standards, and double binds in their everyday lives.”
Further fueling that anger is that a third of those surveyed reported being threatened, bullied or intimidated into giving up what law firms call “origination credit.” If a lawyer is thought of as being responsible for originally bringing in a new client, they can earn 20 to 30 percent of that client’s billing, sometimes for decades after the fact.
The conventional wisdom, as Williams notes, is that women bring in fewer clients because their domestic responsibilities preclude them from being able to go golfing, have late dinners, and engage in other activities that cultivate those relationships. But the study found that female lawyers believe that they do just as much “rainmaking,” but then are denied legitimate claims to credit. “I was surprised at the fervor and surprised that that’s the way they felt,” Williams says. “It’s very clear that senior women lawyers are just incensed about their firms’ compensation systems.”
I also find it interesting that the discussion has to be different now that female LAWYERS feel that gender discrimination is a big reason they get paid less. I guess if well-educated, wealthy ladies say it, that makes it true? Whatever. In the end, it would be great if the conversation did change and more people started to get that misogyny and bias play a huge roll in the gender wage gap problem.