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Allegheny County Bar Association Forms Gender Equality Task Force to Research Issues Identified in “Disappointing” Membership Survey Results

Disparity in pay between male and female attorneys shows little or no improvement since last survey 15 years ago

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania –September 13, 2006.  Executives of the Allegheny County Bar Association have formed a Gender Equality Task Force to analyze, discuss and make recommendations on issues raised in a membership survey commissioned by the bar association.  The survey results, released today, show little or no improvement in the pay disparity between male and female attorneys in the 15 years since the last survey was conducted.  The results can be viewed on the association’s website at www.acba.org.

According to the Hon. Kim Berkeley Clark, president of the Allegheny County Bar Association, “The results of this survey commissioned by our Women in the Law Division are very disappointing. While female attorneys continue to help positively shape the efforts of the legal community in Allegheny County and rise to prominent positions, the survey results show little or no improvement overall in the pay and compensation between male and female attorneys.

“The results of our first survey 15 years ago were to be used as a benchmark for future surveys. Obviously, the bar was set low 15 years ago and it looks like it hasn’t risen. We must determine what actions are needed to remedy the situation. We understand this will not be a quick-fix issue, but we fully understand that this is an issue that cannot be ignored.”

The Gender Equality Task Force was formed last month and is made up of both female and male attorneys and judges.  Task Force members already have begun extensive discussions about the steps that are needed to analyze, research and make recommendations for improvement. In addition to compensation and salary issues, other areas targeted by the survey included work life, satisfaction, and perceptions and attitudes.

According to Attorney Gary Hunt, co-chair of the task force, “We now need to take these initial findings of the survey, analyze them, discuss them and drill down deeper into the reasons for the responses. One thing we need to examine is why some people responded and others chose not to respond.”

The results of the Allegheny County Bar Association survey are consistent with the results of similar surveys in other major cities, including New York City, according to Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan, co-chair of the Task Force.

“Despite having similar results as other cities, we need to take ownership of this issue and present this county as a leader in the effort to achieve equality within the legal profession. I am pleased that our bar association has recognized the importance of this issue and is supportive of an effort to further investigate and address the results of the survey. I definitely believe that the process we are going through will positively affect the work lives of all attorneys, both male and female.”

According to Hunt, “We do no want to lose sight of the fact that despite the poor results in areas such as compensation and salary, a lot of good things have happened in the past 15 years, including job sharing, part-time status, and new technology that allows work to be done outside the office. We want to talk with our law firms and in-house legal departments about their best practices.”

The Task Force has formed the following four subcommittees: Work Life and Compensation Disparity Committee; Job Satisfaction and Retention Committee; Perceptions and Attitudes Committee; and the Information Gathering Committee.

The Survey, “The Legal Profession: A Study of ACBA Membership 2005,” was conducted by Phyllis G. Kitzerow, PhD, and Virginia M. Tomlinson, Ph.D.  According to Dr. Kitzerow, “The twenty one percent of the members of the Allegheny County Bar Association who responded to the survey are representative of the total ACBA membership on measures of age, years in practice and gender.  According to Dr. Tomlinson, “This provides a solid foundation for exploration of the issues.  This study clearly demonstrates the difference in income, yet raises additional questions.”


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