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Associates Survey 2013: The Great (Gender) Divide

Publication Date: 
August 28, 2013
The American Lawyer
Vivia Chen

Professor Deborah Rhode spoke with The American Lawyer's Vivia Chen on the differing views of men and women in the legal field and how law firms have not responded adequately to the priorities of female lawyers.

At first glance, the overall mood seems undeniably upbeat: In our 2013 Midlevel Associates Survey, third-, fourth-, and fifth-years at the country's biggest law firms gave their employers the highest composite scores that we've seen in almost 10 years. Scores ticked up from last year in all 12 of the areas that we use to measure job satisfaction, including the interest level of the work, compensation, training, partner/associate relations, and billable hours. All terrific news, boding well for the profession, except this: In scrutinizing the data, we noticed a clear gender divide in how midlevels viewed their firms and futures.

For the first time, we decided to focus on how women and men answered our questions to better understand the sexes' differing associate experiences. In general, we found that men doled out higher scores in virtually every category of the survey, suggesting that they are more satisfied with the direction of their firms and their careers than their female counterparts. The genders also split when it came to priorities: Men expressed a greater desire to become a partner, while women often voiced uncertainty about staying on.


"Considerable evidence indicates that women place a higher priority on family time than do men, and that law firms have not responded adequately to their priorities," says Deborah Rhode, a professor at Stanford Law School. "Many firms are hemorrhaging talent as well as violating their own stated commitments to equal treatment, not just in principle but in practice."