Female Lawyers and Women in Technology

I think this article about female lawyers nicely complements our class discussion from a few weeks ago about women in technology.

The article like our discussion points out that while 47% of law degrees awarded in 2012 were to females and that women comprised 45% of associate positions in private practices, women only make up 15% of “the equity-partner level—the highest position at a law firm where partners have actual ownership of the firm”.

Why is this the case?  Why is there a lack of women in law, similar to the lack of women in technology?female lawyer

Similar to our discussion of women in technology, sexual harassment also becomes an issue.

The article states:

Sometimes gender bias is not as subtle. Sexual harassment is a problem everywhere, but it’s “better hidden in law firms,” according to Patricia Gillette, a partner in employment law at Orrick in San Francisco and a commissioner on the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. As an employment lawyer, Gillette is acutely aware of this issue and sees very few claims against law firms.Gillette says that women who are victims of sexual harassment may think, “I better be careful. I don’t want to screw myself for the rest of my career.” She says that if a woman made a claim of sexual harassment against her firm, it would be difficult for her to be hired at another corporate law firm.

With so many similarities between the lack of women in the two fields, I begin to wonder if these similar cases are only confined to these particular fields, or if these instances could in fact, be found in any professional field lacking female representation.

Does the fact that these fields are predominately comprised of male workers reify the lack of women in these fields?  How do we encourage women to enter fields where they are already lacking representation?

One thought on “Female Lawyers and Women in Technology

  1. I don’t know if it is about encouraging women to enter these fields, since as your post points out, they have gone to school and studied these things. Technically, they are in the field.

    It might be about the environment (sexual harassment) and there, we could enforce the laws. If it’s not tolerated, maybe it will die down. It might also be about the fields favoring men so that they got the top positions and were therefore more visible. There could be women there who have worked for decades in company but are not given partnership offers. I have spoken to a Human Resouces manager in Uganda before about this and he basically said that while some women were great for the company, they wouldn’t rise that far up because they were undependable. His reasons: maternity leave and other days they’ll want off for a sick child. He also said when the husband moved, the whole family moved at which point, the woman will resign. They didn’t want the company subject to forces outside their control.

    Yeah, I know. Pretty fucked up.

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