Is Gender Bias Holding Back Female Attorneys?

Drunk dialing, inappropriate comments, and lesser pay are some of the things female attorney’s face in the legal profession, according to a recent survey by the Florida Bar.
There were about 400 respondents from the Young Lawyers Division of the Florida Bar to the survey that had Bar’s president promising not to ignore the responses.

gender bias in law firms

There is no doubt that this presents a very sobering picture for our profession,” said Ramón A. Abadin, President of The Florida Bar. “The takeaway from this survey lies in the comments – 90 pages of eloquent, often troubling, personal accounts, and opinions – that make clear this is not an issue to be ignored.”
Some of the responses included:
“After making partner, I learned that male attorneys were paid more out of law school than female attorneys with the same qualifications.”

“All instances involved other lawyers in a large law firm or opposing counsel: drunk dials from senior partners (sometimes during normal business hours), assumptions that I have no life because I’m not married and have no children, etc. I was once asked, “What are you doing this weekend?” I said I was attending a friend’s out-of-town wedding. The partner responded, “No, I mean things you have to go to.” He proceeded to make me work the whole weekend – from the office. Another partner started almost every interaction with me by saying: “Now, don’t go calling the gender police on me.” The managing partner once said (in front of several other lawyers) that the firm should’ve vetted me more carefully when I couldn’t get a particularly slippery bottle of water open at a function (I was carrying his beer and two plates of food as well).”

“As to gender bias, it has often been assumed that I am a court reporter, and not an attorney, by opposing counsel. I’ve also been referred to by a judge in the trial as my boss’s “assistant,” when I was sitting with my client and my boss at counsel’s table.”
In total, 43 percent of the people that responded to the survey experienced gender bias with most of the respondents experiencing more than one serious example of gender bias.

“It was disheartening. I was not expecting those sort of results with it being 2016,” said Gordon Glover, president of The Florida Bar’s Young Leaders Division. “I didn’t personally think that a lot of the issues that showed up in the survey are taking place, and they are. I was extremely surprised.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *