The Differential Valuation of Women's Work: A New Look at the Gender Gap in Lawyers' Incomes

Social Forces, Vol. 88, No. 2, p. 819-864, December 2009

U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-06

47 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2010 Last revised: 18 Mar 2010

See all articles by Joyce S. Sterling

Joyce S. Sterling

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Nancy Reichman

University of Denver - Department of Sociology; University of Denver

Ronit Dinovitzer

University of Toronto; American Bar Foundation

Date Written: February 12, 2010

Abstract

This article seeks to identify the mechanisms underlying the gender wage gap among new lawyers. Relying on nationally representative data to examine the salaries of lawyers working fulltime in private practice, we find a gender gap of about 5 percent. Identifying four mechanisms - work profiles, opportunity paths and structures, credentials, and legal markets - we first estimate how much of the gap stems from the differential valuation of women’s endowments; second, we estimate the effects of different endowments for men and women; and third we assess both these possibilities. The analyses indicate that none of these mechanisms can fully accunt for the gender gap. Experimental studies that indicate women’s work is less valued and rewarded than men’s suggest new directions for research on gendered compensation.

Suggested Citation

Sterling, Joyce S. and Reichman, Nancy and Dinovitzer, Ronit, The Differential Valuation of Women's Work: A New Look at the Gender Gap in Lawyers' Incomes (February 12, 2010). Social Forces, Vol. 88, No. 2, p. 819-864, December 2009, U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-06, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1552081

Joyce S. Sterling (Contact Author)

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States
303-871-6309 (Phone)
303-871-6378 (Fax)

Nancy Reichman

University of Denver - Department of Sociology ( email )

2201 S. Gaylord St
Denver, CO 80208-2685
United States

University of Denver ( email )

Sturm Hall, Room 446
2000 E Asbury Ave, MSC 0942
Denver, CO 80208-0942
United States

Ronit Dinovitzer

University of Toronto ( email )

Department of Sociology
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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