Submitted by kgmcg999
Gender diversity is good for business. As a 2010 McKinsey Global Survey reported, 72 percent of executives "believe there is a direct connection between a company's gender diversity and its financial success." The study also noted that companies with the greatest gender diversity had better than average operating results and returns on equity. Yet, despite these monetary benefits and legal prohibitions on sex discrimination, women have yet to make significant inroads in the power structure and profit sharing at BigLaw.
Admittedly, law has been a male-dominated profession for centuries, but females have provided much of the brainpower since the 1980s. Thirty years of acclimatization has done little to convince the old boys who run these clubs that women deserve full membership in proportion to their representation among the worker bee associate class.
The number of female equity partners at major firms has hovered around 15 percent for the last twenty years. (Equity partners have an ownership interest and receive the largest compensation.) This ceiling is especially troubling given women have constituted at least 40 percent of enrolling law students since 1985 and reached a high of 50 percent in 1999. Additionally, women’s representation in the ranks of associates entering major firms after graduation has been roughly comparable.
The National Association of Women Lawyers 2011 survey of the country’s 200 largest law firms the considered other markers of women’s status. Of the 121 firms responding, 77 percent have at most two women on their governing bodies, which are typically comprised of about ten members. Worse, female equity partners on average earn only 86% of the amount their male peers earn.
This continuing disparity has been the source of much commentary. Analysts have suggested causes ranging from a lack of mentors to women’s failure to self-promote.
But as this pattern has continued, the hard truth has begun to surface. The primary cause is sexism, generously described as “unconscious bias.”