Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Gender Gap for SEC Attorneys

62 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2015 Last revised: 2 Jul 2018

Stephen J. Choi

New York University School of Law

G. Mitu Gulati

Duke University School of Law

Adam C. Pritchard

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: June 25, 2018

Abstract

The gender gap is a much debated labor market phenomenon. Our article seeks to examine it in a context where it has received less attention: government attorneys. Using data on lawyers from the Enforcement Division of the SEC, we find the following: First, men receive more of the assignments that lead to high-profile allegations. Second, men receive greater pay increases than women. Third, men are both more likely to move laterally than women, and more likely to move to lucrative private sector jobs. The question we address is what is causing these gaps in pay and assignments. The primary explanation for the gender gap from the extant literature is the gender differential in childcare responsibilities. Employing a novel methodology to gather data on children, we do not find substantial evidence that children affect pay and assignments at the SEC. The presence of children, however, does seem to affect the behavior of men and women differently in deciding when to leave the SEC. We also report evidence that changes in the work environment at the SEC reduce the gender gap by inducing some women to leave the SEC.

Keywords: SEC Enforcement, lawyers, gender

JEL Classification: J44, K22

Suggested Citation

Choi, Stephen J. and Gulati, G. Mitu and Pritchard, Adam C., Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Gender Gap for SEC Attorneys (June 25, 2018). NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 17-07; U of Michigan Law & Econ Research Paper No. 16-036. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2627758 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2627758

Stephen J. Choi

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Gaurang Mitu Gulati

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Adam C. Pritchard (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
734-647-4048 (Phone)
734-647-7349 (Fax)

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