Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New Study of Women in Law

The MIT Workplace Center today released a report by Mona Harrington and Helen Hsi on Women Lawyers and Obstacles to Leadership. According to the summary:
Massachusetts law firms do not generally assume responsibility for the need of their lawyers to take time for their families. The result is an exodus of women from firm practice and an extremely low number of women among equity partners—the present ratio being 17% women, 83% men. These conclusions emerge from a recent report of two MIT Workplace Center surveys tracking the career paths of nearly 1000 women and men in Massachusetts firms over a five year period.

As reported by Sacha Pfeiffer in The Boston Globe, the studies show that "female lawyers continue to face intractable challenges in their attempts to become partners." This is a slightly different emphasis from the introduction to the summary quoted above, where the firms' failures to accommodate the needs of lawyers' families is identified as the culprit.
As I have argued elsewhere, the typical attorney position in a large corporate law firm (the subject of these studies) requires the efforts of more than one person to fill it. Until house-husbands become as common as house-wives, women will drop off the partnership track more often than men.

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