Survey says: Do something about it

June 27, 2008
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Bar associations survey their members to find out everything from salary to time off to satisfaction with the county judges. They publish the results for the world to see and sometimes, news organizations like us report on the findings. But then what?

The Allegheny County Bar Association in Pennsylvania is taking the results of its 2005 survey regarding disparity in pay between the genders and enacting an Institute for Gender Equality. The institute will offer programs about various topics like mentoring and work-life balance, track its participants, and follow up with them for feedback. The programs will begin early next year.

Bar associations and legal organizations across the country publish numerous surveys every year indicating the difference in treatment, pay, and work lives for female lawyers as compared to their male counterparts. It’s great to see a bar association take a proactive approach to attempt to eliminate some of the issues discovered or reinforced in the surveys.

Indiana State Bar Association Women in Law Committee chair Angela Hopper said the state bar is in the infancy stages of a program with the ultimate goal of something similar to what the Allegheny County Bar Association offers. The Women in Law Committee surveyed members in 2006 and 2007 and gave the results to the Judicial System Committee. The plan is to conduct similar surveys every couple of years, compare the results, and see what kind of programs need to be implemented, she said. The goal is to eventually come up with guidelines to address any inequalities and problems facing female attorneys.

Unfortunately, inequality still exists between male and female workers in all professions, and that’s why there is a committee for women in the law. Hopper did offer some hope for female attorneys in Indiana: based on the most recent survey, Indiana – as compared to the surrounding states – overall is a good state to practice in. Let’s hope future surveys continue to reinforce that finding and assist in closing the gender inequality issues faced in the legal profession.
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