Sex Discrimination in the Legal Profession

Sex Discrimination in the Legal Profession

Sex Discrimination in the Legal Profession

Sex Discrimination in the Legal Profession


The results of this extremely data-rich study reveal that women attorneys are victimized by less obvious forms of discrimination than their male counterparts. Based on results of surveys conducted by the ABA in 1984 and 1990, this work challenges the notion that legislation outlawing discrimination actually works. Setting controls for a whole host of individual, firm, and locational characteristics, the study determined that although hourly earnings of female lawyers do not differ appreciably from those of male lawyers, the incidence of promotion from associate to partner is greater for men than for otherwise comparable women. Lentz and Laband also found evidence of sexual harassment and other less-tangible aspects of sex discrimination in the legal workplace. This book is essential reading for members of law firms, labor economists, feminist scholars, and human resource professionals.


Civil rights law protects women against sexual harassment specifically and against discrimination on the basis of sex generally. Even so, there is ample evidence that the workplace in America is characterized by multi-faceted discrimination against women: lower pay, barriers to promotion, intimidation, discriminatory job assignments, and sexual harassment. the widespread, visceral reaction of American women to Anita Hill's charges against Clarence Thomas during his 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings and the manner in which those charges were handled by the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee is compelling evidence that protection under the law is widely perceived by women as a myth.

The 1993 Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Ruth Bader Ginsburg offered dramatic new testimony that even the most intelligent and highly-educated women in America are victimized by sex discrimination. As reported by the Wall Street Journal (July 20, 1993), "not a single law firm in the entire city of New York" bid for Judge Ginsburg's employment when she graduated at the top of her class from Columbia Law School. Granted, that was in the 1950s; the question is whether or not much progress has been made since then.

Other women lawyers complain that employers presume that women lawyers will put family responsibilities, including their husbands' careers, ahead of their own. in a July 29, 1993, editorial in the Baltimore Sun,Cynthia Fuchs Epstein , author of Women in Law, charged that female lawyers "systematically face disrespectful and demeaning behavior by court officers and judges." Professor Epstein argued additionally that female attorneys are not given access to high- profile, challenging work and that their lack of "presence" is raised as a concern during the evaluation process for promotion.

Women argue that, in general practice, Title vii of the Civil Rights Act simply does not work. the expected benefits from bringing suit formally against . . .

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