ShareThis Page

Attorneys move to close pay gap for women in law

| Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Allegheny County Bar Association is moving to close the pay gap for women in the local law profession, a gap that it's officials say hasn't gotten much better since the organization first reported on the issue 18 years ago.

The association today announced the founding of an Institute for Gender Equality as well as a list of recommendations developed in the wake of a 2005 membership survey that showed little or no improvement in pay and other gender equality issues in the local legal community compared to a similar survey in 1990.

"The time for just talking about gender equality is past and the emphasis going forward must be on a collaborative effort to secure real change for all stakeholders," said Linda Hernandez, the association's gender equality coordinator.

Last year Hernandez was named to her current post -- a position believed to be the first of its kind for a bar association in the U.S. Now she will add the title of director of the new institute. It is expected to begin classes in the first quarter of 2009 and will be open to all members of the bar association.

"It is our belief that the graduates of the institute will be equipped with additional leadership, management, and negotiation skills to effect change in their organizations and to help us mentor future participants," she said.

According to the 2005 membership survey, male lawyers made significantly more than female lawyers locally, with only about 5 percent of the female lawyers making more than $250,000 a year.

About 20 percent of the men were at that level.

Also, no woman who graduated from law school in the 1990s was paid more than $200,000 to $249,999 level, while almost 10 percent of the male graduates of the 1990s were, the survey found.

"We were disappointed in the 2005 Membership Survey results, but over the past 18 months our Gender Equality Task Force members have been researching law firms and bar associations, conducting focus groups and interviews, and drilling down into those survey results to determine where change is needed," said Ken Gormley, a Duquesne University law professor and current president of the bar association.

"We are proud to announce the founding of the Allegheny County Bar Association's Institute for Gender Equality, and we believe strongly that this is a positive step forward in addressing the issue of gender equality in the Allegheny County legal community."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.