GENDER BIAS IN THE LEGAL FIELD
With Women’s History Month coming to an end, and as the “Me Too” movement unfurls across the U.S., it seems we have entered a time of reckoning for gender inequality. Regardless of the voices of resistance growing louder, women still face deep discrimination purely for being women.
Recent studies tend to indicate there is an undercurrent of gender bias in the legal profession too. Findings from a survey conducted by The Women in Law Committee of the State Bar of California in cooperation with The Employment Law Center, Legal Aid Society of San Francisco produced interesting results concerning gender bias. 85% of the women lawyers surveyed perceive a subtle but pervasive gender bias within the legal profession. Almost 2/3 agree that women lawyers are not accepted as equals by their male peers.
Beth Mora, Esq. of Mora Employment Law recently gave her insight on the “#Me Too-in-the-law” gender bias impact. She explained, “Gender bias is an “inclination towards or prejudice against one’s gender.” Further a subconscious gender bias is “an implicit association or attitude about…gender that operates beyond our control and awareness, informs our perception of a person or social group, and can influence our decision-making and behavior toward the target of the bias.”
Lawsuits alleging gender bias have also come into play. A recent filing accuses an employment law firm of discriminating against female partners in pay, promotions and opportunities. The suit says the firm doesn’t give female shareholders the appropriate credit for business they generate and the work they do. Additionally, women lawyers do not have the same development and training opportunities provided to men, nor do they select women for business pitches as often as men. The firm also disproportionately gives administrative duties to women lawyers, which takes up time that could be spent on billable matters. Compensation decisions are controlled by the firm’s predominantly male compensation committee and are approved by a vote of equity shareholders, about 80 percent of whom are men.
It takes immeasurable strength to make a complaint of harassment and discrimination. Being an attorney does not insulate one from sexual harassment or discrimination nor does one’s abilities preclude them from abuse of any kind.