Wage Gaps in the Legal Profession
by kaeleigh17 on October 27, 2016 - 12:11am
There is a controversial problem in the United States today regarding the differences in pay between men and women for the same nature and amount of work. The work sector of interest in this article is the legal profession, focusing mostly on full-time lawyers. Wage gaps have been reported by multiple research agencies including PayScale, Sky Analytics, and the United States Census Bureau.
Wage gaps have been found in all law-related jobs from paralegals, to judges, to lawyers, to legal supporters. Paralegals were the most fair, with female paralegals earning 94% of what male paralegals make, according to the United States Census Bureau. They also report that full-time female lawyers make 77.4% of what full-time male lawyers make.
There are however some explanations to the difference in pay. The law field is not equal in terms of what kind of courts and practice that the law field consists of. For example, more women work in family law, which, as a whole has a lower pay rate. So these statistics may be skewed due to women making up more of the lower paying law practices. According to ThinkProgress, “women’s different career tracks can account for about 10 percent of the gender wage gap.”
Many people want to reform pay structures so women are making just as much as men but that is where the biggest challenge comes in. How would you fix the wage gap? People seem to expect and demand that the problem be fixed immediately but there has to be a reason for the unbalance in how the wages are distributed. It is difficult to add money to an industry that was not there before, therefore it seems you would have to take funds away from the male part of the workforce to balance the wage gap out. This is not a fair or sustainable solution. If more women filled the positions that were making higher wages, the numbers would equal out. Of course, one must ask why women are not in these higher positions, is it because of overwhelming preference or some sort of discrimination in the higher levels of law? Some organizations target women to hire to help equal out these numbers.
Gender wage gaps are prevalent all over the nation in many different industries and many reforms will have to be made, but they will need to be sustainable and not just bandages, and they need to promote equality and fairness.