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Briana Calloway
Professor Connie Douglas
ENG 2116
Gender Equality in Compensation
Over the past forty years, women have slowly become more prominent members of the
legal field and the workforce as a whole. However, women still make less money than their male
colleagues across multiple fields of work. They also hold less leadership positions. When looking
at the big picture and account for the gap across all fields of work, this inequality between
genders is blamed on the fact that women take lower paying jobs; however, there is still an
economic gap between the two, even when having the same job. Concerning the field of law,
men and women on average graduate law school at an equal rate, but further study shows that
their careers continue to be far from equal. Womens initiatives have been under budgeted,
misguided and an overall failure. The gender gap in pay continues to thrive in our modern day
society where arguments for equality are at the forefront of society. It is estimated that true
gender equality will not occur for another 170 years if no improvements are made. (Tadeo) This
research report investigates the compensation gap between men and women across all fields of
work with a specific focus on the gender gap within the field of law and what can be done to
bridge the gap.

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Defining the Gap in Compensation
Gender gap in compensation is a term used to describe the difference between the salaries
of a full- time male employee in comparison to a full time female employee (Browne). This gap
applies to most, if not all, fields of work. Fortunately, this gap has continued to close over time.
However, it has closed very slowly. In 1977, women made fifty- nine cents compared to a mans
dollar, and in 1999 it was seventy-two cents (Browne). The most recent data as of 2015 shows
that women, on average, make 20% less than men, and this difference in pay between genders
also applies to all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Statistics show that when men and women are
completing the same amount of work, with the same amount of experience, men make on
average, $11,000 more.
Many disparities can be found when it comes to gender equality in the field of law. The
rate of compensation is the largest difference within law practices. Studies show that female
lawyers only make sixty-one to sixty-three percent compared to male lawyers with the same
amount of experience. This gap is shown to begin at the associate level and widen over time with
more experience and stature within the practice. As of 2016, the gap remains wide and does not
want to close. The National Association of Women Lawyers conducted a survey in 2015 to see
what the most recent statistics were concerning womens roles in multiple law firms, and what
they were paid. Every law firm that responded to the survey reported that a male was their
highest wage earner. Also, according to the survey, a typical female lawyer in the practice was
making eighty percent of what her male colleagues were being paid. (Rikleen)
The revenue from client billings that is generated in a law firm is a large portion of
lawyers salaries. There is also a gender gap within client billings between the two genders.
Overall, women reported working more hours for their clients; however, female lawyers only bill

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their clients seventy-eight percent of what their male colleagues do. (Rikleen) Many questions
can be raised on exactly how hours are distributed and what other contributors there are when it
comes to the disparity in client billing revenue. It is possible that women do not think that the
hours that they spend working for their clients is as valuable as a male would think his hours are.
Lastly, it may also mean that women work harder for their clients while doing non- billable
hours worth of work to make sure that their work is substantial.
Reasons Why the Gap Exists
Some theorists blame the gap on the fact that women are overrepresented in lower paying
jobs while men, on average, have more professional jobs. A majority of women largely occupy
lower paying jobs called the 5 Cs: cleaning, caring, clerical work, cashiering and catering
(Eikhof). On the other end of the spectrum, women are underrepresented in higher level jobs.
Women in corporate settings now represent twenty-three percent of Fortune 500 general
counsels, however, their fellow females in the field of law only represent fifteen percent of high
level positions, such as equity partners and chief legal officers. (Rikleen)
The gender gap is also generally blamed on the assumption that women, overall, have
less education, experience, and work less hours. It is also believed that men value financial
success while women value relationships, a comfortable work environment, and safe working
conditions. Although, this is mostly true, based on men and womens different biology and
different needs, it is not the only lens through which we can look at this inequality. Some
researchers attribute the gender gap in pay to the idea that men work longer hours, generate more
money, and simply perform better than women. (Eikhof) However, when this theory is applied to
the pay gap within law, further studies show that both genders receive similar test scores in an
academic setting. Additional research shows that women outperform men academically as well.

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(Rikleen) Although the ratio of men to women filling entry level positions is equal, women
continue to stay on the lower end of compensation and do not climb the ladder as often, nor as
fast as their male colleagues.
When the National Association of Women Lawyers conducted their survey, the also asked
law firms if they had a set Womens Initiative within their practice. All of the firms surveyed
replied that they did; however, the budget for the initiative was lacking, and therefore unable to
accomplish their goals. Also, in the NAWLs survey, only seventy-five percent of firms had a
formal budget designated for the purpose of womens initiatives compared to 2012s eighty
percent. (Rikleen) This data suggests that womens initiatives are seen as an unnecessary expense
within some workplaces; therefore, adding to the idea that women are subject to subtle
discrimination within the field of law.
If womens initiatives happen to be funded, they are likely to be misguided. When the
NAWL asked law firms what the specific purpose of their Womens Initiative was, the replies
were largely disconnected with reality. Rather than focusing on internal problems, most mission
statements revolved around outside influences that impact women in the workplace. Examples
include networking, events relating to the expansion of client relationships, community
engagement, mentoring, coaching, programs focused on work-life integration, etc. (Rikleen).
Focusing initiatives on only external issues suggests that women are a cause of their own
inequality. Also, when leaving out the internal problems of the workplace, womens initiatives so
far have ignored and denied the idea that women are subject to discrimination and are kept from
wanting to pursue or being able to pursue a higher level job in law. If properly done, initiatives
for women could be an opportunity to tear down the barriers between the two genders and to
strengthen the workplace as a whole. (Rikleen)

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Possible Solutions
The National Association of Women Lawyers issued a challenge in 2006. The goal of this
challenge was to increase the number of women in law to at least thirty percent by 2015. This
was due to the statistics that showed women being fifty percent of law school graduates, but only
occupying 15 percent of leadership positions in law firms. In ten years, those numbers have
barely increased. As of 2012, according to NAWL, 97 percent had rolled out womens
initiatives to better retain and train women for advancement. Unfortunately, their efforts have
mostly failed (Rikleen). However, there may be a way to bridge the gap between sexes when it
comes to compensation in the workplace.
An organizational approach to the gender gap in compensation may be the answer to the
question of how to solve the issue. A study was done to show whether or not accountability and
transparency in a business setting would be a way to reduce or eliminate the compensation gap
between men, women and minorities. When required to give an account for what men and
women were paid within the business, the study showed that accountability did prove to increase
pay for women and minorities. The basic conclusion of this study was the idea of having
accountability within a business concerning their employee compensation is a means of
equalizing wage and improving work environments. (Castilla) Disclosing information on
compensation could be the solution to the stand-still on the progression of gender equality in the
An additional solution to the issue is for women to be compensated equally, purely based
on performance, assuming that the level of experience is the same compared to men. In turn,
equal compensation would eliminate any possible gender discrimination. The idea that men and
women should be paid equally when not occupying the same job is inconceivable and will not

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likely happen. However, if women knew that they would be evaluated and recognized for their
work, this would also inspire women to challenge themselves, work towards higher positions in
their field, and have the opportunity to achieve just as much as their male colleagues.
In conclusion, gender gap in compensation is a multi-faceted issue that continues to be
studied and debated. There are a multitude of different situations and circumstances that shape
how men and women are payed. The difference can be blamed on uncomfortable work
environments, discrimination, sexist bosses, negative relationships with the person in charge of
the payroll, lower availability, less physical strength, less experience, etc. To a certain degree,
this gap in compensation will always exist as long as studies are done that compare women
caregivers to male lawyers for example. This gap will also continue to exist as long as men and
women are different, and occupy different jobs. However, further research needs to be done on
men and women that occupy the same job since most texts that are written on the subject do not
focus on the primary issue: that women get paid less for the same amount of work. A requirement
for business to report their wages to a governmental program specifically made for the
implementation of equal rights within businesses may also be a solution to this unexplained issue
when it involves women being paid less for the same job. Also, in order to bridge the gap
between genders, there must be accountability within businesses. Arguably, this is the best way
to prevent discrimination from continuing to thrive in our modern day work places. If this
discrimination does continue the number of women that enter into law will continue to decrease
as it has in the past five years. In order to remedy this, action must be taken, and studies must be
done to further define this issue and to continue the advancement of women and minorities in our

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Works Cited
Browne, Kingsley. Biology at Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality. Piscataway: Rutgers
University Press, 2002. Web. 3 Oct. 2016
Castilla, Emilio J. "Accounting for the Gap: a Firm Study Manipulating Organizational
Accountability and Transparency in Pay Decisions." Organization Science. Print.
Eikhof, Doris R. "A Double-Edged Sword: Twenty-First Century Workplace Trends and Gender
Equality." Gender in Management: an International Journal. 27.1 (2012): 7-22. Print.
Stiller Rikleen, Lauren. "Women Lawyers Continue To Lag Behind Male Colleagues." Women
Lawyers Journal 100.4 (2015): 23-40. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
Tadeo, Maria. "Women Will Have to Wait Another 170 Years to Close Gender Gap." Bloomberg L.P., 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.