History of the Women in the Law Division Gender Bias Subcommittee By Krysia Kubiak This article is the second in a series of articles about issues surrounding women attorneys. Before addressing the current challenges and solutions for women attorneys, this article explores where the Women in the Law Division and the Gender Bias Survey began. The story is that the committee for Women in the Law began when a judge refused to call a married female attorney by her maiden name. After the attorney got married, she kept her maiden name. However, the judge, who knew her husband, insisted on using her husband's name when he addressed her. This continued over her objections and throughout the case that she was trying in front of him. The idea of forming a Women in the Law Committee had come about months before that incident. In 1988, Tom Hollander was serving as president of the Allegheny County Bar Association. That year the Board of Governors held a retreat planning session. "We came up with a list of goals-increasing opportunities for minorities, improving the levels of professionalism in the profession and confronting issues facing women," said Hollander, "We created a committee to address each goal." Following the retreat, Hollander quickly found attorneys to head the new committees to address the issues of professionalism and opportunities for minorities, but he could not find a female attorney to head the Women in the Law Committee. "It was 1988-women did not want to be put in that role," said Hollander. "Then, when the judge refused to call the attorney by her maiden name, the floodgates opened," said Hollander. Hollander was introduced to Carol McCarthy. "Carol was just the right person for the job," said Hollander, "She didn't care what people thought of her." Over 200 attorneys and judges attended the first meeting of the Women in the Law Committee. McCarthy divided the attorneys and judges into subcommittees. Two subcommittees were created to deal with complaints of gender bias-one was tasked with hearing complaints about gender bias from judges, the other from attorneys. Soon the two subcommittees merged into one. "The Gender Bias Subcommittee took a variety of actions on complaints, including requests for apologies from judges for their actions that demonstrated gender bias," said McCarthy. During that time, the Women in the Law Committee also drafted a model family leave policy for firms and began an annual presentation at the Bench-Bar Conference. In 1990, the Women in the Law Committee members drafted the first Gender Bias Survey. The results were published in 1991. The survey demonstrated that, on average, female attorneys made less money than male attorneys, even when practicing in the same area of law for the same period of time. It also showed that women attorneys spent more hours taking care of the house and their children than their male counterparts. After completion of the survey, the Women in the Law continued to address issues facing women. In 2002, the Women in the Law Committee created and made available to the whole legal community a model sexual harassment policy. In 2003, the Women in the Law Committee became the Women in the Law Division. Any female member of the ACBA in good standing is automatically a member of the Women in the Law Division. Any male member of the ACBA in good standing wishing to join may do so by giving notice to the chair. The WLD has approximately 1,800 current members. With the Women in the Law now established as a Division of the ACBA, the time had come to revisit the old data. In 2005, the Gender Bias Subcommittee conducted another gender bias survey that was to track the changes that have occurred in the 15 years since the last survey. Virginia Tomlinson and Phyllis Kitzerow, two professors at Westminster College, were approached about conducting the survey. The results of the 2005 survey closely reflected the results of the 1990 survey. Many of the survey's questions were kept the same, although attempts were made to make the survey shorter and more current to encourage more people to respond. "Because the earlier survey was conducted 15 years ago we have the opportunity to explore change over time," said Tomlinson. "This type of longitudinal analysis is a rare opportunity." "Respondents of the survey were representative of the total membership on measures of gender, years in practice and age," said Tomlinson. For example, women make up 26.8 percent of the ACBA membership and 27.2 percent of the survey respondents. Of the total membership, 27.7 percent has been practicing 16-25 years, and 27 percent of the survey respondents have been practicing that length of time. These comparisons demonstrate that a representative sampling responded to the survey. The survey demonstrates that not much has changed in the legal profession. Both the number of billable hours required and the amount of time that associates have to spend at work are very similar to the 1990 data. "Not a lot of concessions have occurred for men or women to balance family with their work life in the legal profession," said Kitzerow. After examining the data, women are again making less money than men in the legal profession, even after controlling for such factors as age, experience and area of law. Although men are spending more time performing childcare, women are also spending more time performing childcare. Female attorneys are continuing to spend more time taking care of their homes and children as compared to their male counterparts. Armed with current information about the disparities between the wages and positions of female attorneys as compared to male attorneys, the Women in the Law Division has recently accepted a new configuration of committees. In addition to such events as Race for the Cure and Take Your Child to Work, the Women in the Law Division is committed to helping female attorneys reach their full professional potential. n Krysia Kubiak is a senior associate with the law firm of Lynch Weis, LLC and can be reached at kkubiak@lynchweis.com.