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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Addressing & Resolving Issues Faced by Female Attorneys

Female attorney in a courtroom

It’s no secret that women are blazing powerful trails in previously male-dominated careers, especially the legal field. And while new doors are opening and outdated gender roles in the workplace are being torn down, there are still many obstacles for female lawyers to overcome. According to a new study released by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, there is still a pronounced racial and gender bias for female lawyers.
These biases contribute to these reported issues faced by female attorneys:

• Unequal access to opportunity. 81% of white male attorneys feel like they have access to “high-quality” assignments that lead to exposure and advancement in their careers. 50% of women of color feel as if they do.

• Higher standards. Many women in the legal field feel as if they are being held to a higher standard than their white male colleagues. This pressure includes behaving in a strictly feminine manner and, if they should exhibit any stereotypically masculine behaviors, facing a backlash.

• Unequal pay. 70% of women of color and 60% of white women feel that they are paid less than colleagues with equal experience. 36% of white men agreed.

• Gender biased tasks. Women are usually tasked with “office housework”, such as note taking, ordering lunches, and comforting distressed colleagues.

• Sexual harassment. ¼ of female lawyers experience sexual harassment in the work place. This harassment comes in the form of unwelcome sexual comments, physical contact, and romantic advances. In addition, 70% of respondents said they overheard sexist comments, stories, or jokes in the workplace.

• Lost opportunities. Nearly 1 in 8 white women, and 1 in 10 women of color, said they lost out on opportunities because they rejected a male colleague’s sexual advances.

Fortunately, organizations such as the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession are spearheading efforts to ensure women fully and equally partake in the legal field and justice system. Programs such as Zero Tolerance: Best Practices for Combating Sex-Based Harassment in the Legal Profession, The Grit Project, Women of Color Research Initiative, and others raise awareness, educate, and support women to minimize the gender bias for female lawyers and reduce the issues faced by female attorneys. Women all over the United States, from female Beaverton DUI lawyers in Oregon to female criminal defense attorneys in Miami, Florida, are benefiting and continue to create new paths for the women behind them.