Stop Discounting Women: Equal Pay Day 2011

Today is Equal Pay Day - the day when your 2011 earnings finally fill the gap between you and your male counterparts' 2010 earnings.  Every time I talk to women lawyers about their wage gap I am met with skepticism. "I'm in a lockstep firm," they say. "I'm paid the same as anyone else." Well wake up and smell the numbers ladies, because no you are not.

Study after study confirms that controlling for everything (hours worked, years worked, leave taken, office, market) women are paid less in every professional setting (non-profit, private, lock-step (they get you with the bonus), you name it).  At this point you should be operating under this assumption: wherever there is ambiguity or a lack of transparency in a compensation decision, bias will creep in and screw you out of your fair pay.

I know you still don't believe me. So here today's study: ALM collected data on billing rates from attorneys at 176 small and mid-sized firms. The result: male lawyers on average had a billing rate of $312, while the rate for women was just $259.  That means that if you're a woman, the time it took you to read this post is worth about $5 bucks less than if you were a guy. When you spend and hour reading cases on WestLaw it's worth $53 bucks less than the hour the guy next door spent doing the exact same work.

Small wonder NAWL keeps reporting that half the large lockstep firms they survey don't have a single female rainmaker. Maybe if they hadn't been under-billing every single hour of her work for the last 30 years she'd have a shot.

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