Discrimination In The Law Field


According to the data released by the American Bar Association in 2017, for the first time, women have moved past the 50 percent mark in law school admission. It seems women have earned an edge in the profession of law, yet data from ABA also shows that women only make up 36 percent of the workforce. Still, in the 21st century, women are faced with severe gender discrimination in the law profession.

Disproportion in the field

About a third of female attorneys now work in law firms and another third are in solo practice.About 10 percent work in government or corporate counsel offices. About three percent are in the judiciary or in public interest, public defender, or legal aid organizations. About one percent are in legal education.

Gender-Wage gap

Women’s weekly salary is 90 percent of the men’s weekly salary, according to the statistics collected by ABA from 2015.

Sexual Harassment

Recent surveys reveal about half to two-thirds of female lawyers reported experiencing or observing sexual harassment, according to the American Bar Association.

Why does gender discrimination in law profession occur? According to the Unfinished Agenda published by American Bar Association, people in law field think that “women lacked a ‘legal mind;’ the ‘peculiar qualities of womanhood, its gentle graces, its purity, its delicacy… and its emotional impulses’ were not qualifications for ‘forensic strife.’” Also, there are assumptions about the inadequate commitment of working mothers.

But when it comes to the workforce, with no regard to gender, performance is evaluated based on the working skills of an individual including memorization, learning, and comprehension. Yet according to a study from Stanford University, “Women excel in several measures of verbal ability — pretty much all of them, except for verbal analogies. Women’s reading comprehension and writing ability consistently exceed that of men, on average. They out­perform men in tests of fine-motor coordination and perceptual speed. They’re more adept at retrieving information from the long-term memory;” And this result is caused by the difference between the brains of men and women. If women lacked a “legal mind”, likewise, could we say men lacked a “legal brain”?

Behind the gender discrimination in the workforce is the power of prejudice and bias. It is not compatible with the development of contemporary society to judge the performance of individuals fully based on their innate features, and neglect the true performance skills. It disdains the credibility of the justice system when it is not just and supportive for the individuals, who work diligently for its maintenance.