Senior women lawyers face distinct burdens, US study shows

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Senior women lawyers in the US have the deck stacked against them, a new American Bar Association (ABA) study has found.

Preliminary results of the ABA survey, which involved 1,300 lawyers from the 350 largest law firms in the country, showed that women lawyers face disparate challenges, stereotypes, and burdens that fewer male lawyers face, the ABA said.

Of the respondents, 81% of women said that they were mistaken for lower-level employees, which did not happen to men. Caretaking commitments also led 60% of women to leave law firms, compared to 46% of men.

Responsibility for arranging child care fell on 54% of the women respondents, which is higher than the 1% of men who had the sole responsibility. Among the women respondents, 39% said that cooking meals has become their responsibility, compared to 11% of men. Children’s needs also pushed 34% of women to leave work, compared to 5% of men.

The ABA said that men and women both had comparable overall satisfaction with legal practice, which leads researchers to say that women don’t really want to leave their law careers, they just feel pushed out.

The preliminary results of the study were discussed during the ABA’s annual meeting on Friday in Chicago. The full study is due out next month.

 

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