A new study by the Project for Attorney Retention and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association has revealed that the glass ceiling is still present for female attorneys. The traditional explanation for wage disparities has been that “family responsibilities mean women are less ambitious, more distracted, and less productive than men.” However, the study’s authors assert that “the biggest contributing factors…are not nearly as benign: they include stereotyping, gender bias, and even bullying and intimidation.”
The study interviewed 700 female lawyers. One-half of the female attorneys who are equity partners and two-thirds of female minority and income partners felt dissatisfied with their compensation. This can be compared with a previous study that revealed that three-quarters of male attorneys are satisfied with their pay.
It is not just a feeling (PDF) that reveals that female attorneys receive lower pay than their male counterparts: “A recent Census Bureau report revealed that the median income of female lawyers is only 74% of that of male lawyers. Unfortunately, what starts as a $2,000 dollar annual gap between male and female associates accelerates to a $66,000 annual gap between male and female equity partners.”
Sadly, the wage gap is not limited to attorneys. On average, women earn 77 cents to man’s dollar. The gap is even more striking for women of color. African-American women only earn 68 cents to every dollar the average man earns, and Latina women a mere 58 cents.
Economists say the gender gap is partly due to women taking more time off due to childcare duties and the fact that women are more likely to work in lower-paying jobs than men. However, though this may account for some of the gap, “even when you control for occupation and a host of other variables, economists still find an unexplained gender gap of anywhere from around a nickel to a dime or more on the dollar.” Wage disparities still hold when those studied have no children.
The continued existence of a wage gap is not only bad for women, but for the entire economy: “studies have found that closing the gender wage gap could result in significant GDP growth.”
The glass ceiling continues to be a reality for all women, even those who are partners in law firms. To learn more about current wage disparities in the U.S., read Time’s article that was published on this year’s Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day – April 20th – marks the day when the average woman has earned as much as her male counterpart did the year before.