According to research done at Temple University and the University of Texas-Pan American by law and business professors, female lawyers actually outperform male lawyers, yet women lawyers are consistently earning less. The study compiled a research sample from the 200 largest law firms by revenue in the United States between 2002 and 2007 using the standards of The National Law Journal affiliate The American Lawyer. The study ultimately found that ''If these women are underpaid and undervalued in terms of rank despite their conformity to a lockstep pattern, the inequalities could be due to intentional discrimination."
Maria Angel, Temple law professor
, had been studying similar patterns at Pennsylvania law firms. Angel found that revenue per lawyer remained the same at firms with high percentages of women attorneys compared to those with low percentages of female attorneys. She was well aware of the often touted belief that women earn less because they work fewer hours or are not rainmakers. But, in fact, the study found that ''Even if women do not devote as much time to their careers due to caretaking duties, there is no evidence of it adversely impacting their revenue generating ability.'' If the suggestion that women are less productive is discredited, then gender discrimination is a more likely explanation for the gap in pay.
Angel predicts the gap will grow, even with attention drawn to the issue, because firms are foregoing entry-level hiring in favor of established laterals. A larger percentage of entry-level hires
are women whereas established laterals are more likely to be older males.
The lockstep system may be considered another source of the pay gap. Basing pay on seniority is harmful to women who take time off to have children or be a caretaker as they are often excluded from opportunities for promotions and not considered for partner. However, Angel says that even women who have not taken time off are still consistently earning less than men.
''Firms can no longer bury their heads in the sand and come up with excuses,'' says Angel. ''They are simply going to have to address the problems in their higher ranks.''
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