The Future of Women in the Legal Profession: Recognizing the Challenges Ahead by Reviewing Current Trends
51 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2008
Date Written: July 23, 2008
In 2004, the Indiana Supreme Court Race and Gender Commission undertook a large survey of lawyers' perceptions about women in the legal profession in order to assess which areas of gender bias have improved and which areas could stand improvement. This article takes the data from this survey and interprets its significance for women in the profession and for the justice system overall. The article compares the findings from the 2004 study of Indiana lawyers to the findings of a similar earlier Indiana study (conducted in 1990) and draws conclusions regarding the overall occurrence of gender bias in Indiana along the experiences of women in the legal profession in the state. The article further examines how the instances of gender bias and the experiences of women in the legal profession in Indiana measure up to those of other parts of the country by using comparative data from other U.S. jurisdictions. Finally, Professor Lopez offers conclusions and recommendations on how the situation for women in the legal profession can be improved and for further study on the topic of gender equality in the legal profession. In particular, she finds that while the overall satisfaction data shows that Indiana attorneys and their counterparts nationwide appear on the whole satisfied with their careers, it is evident that there is still room for improvement. Disparity between the genders in the legal profession continues, especially in the area of financial compensation. In terms of advancement, discrimination in the workplace and the work/family balance, women still show similar dissatisfaction and gaps with similarly situated men. Even though it may appear that gender equity is the norm in the legal profession, the data shows that women lawyers are still not on even ground with their male counterparts in key aspects.
Keywords: Women, legal profession, survey, gender bias, gender equality, perceptions about women in the legal profession, discrimination, work/family balance
JEL Classification: K40, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation