What Percentage of Lawyers are Female in Alabama? - Sara Williams ESQ

What Percentage of Lawyers are Female in Alabama?

November 28, 2021

Are women discriminated against in the legal business?

Well, it is a male-dominated field with only minimal representation for women, so there is some friction here but it would be a bit too premature to make a statement before we’ve analyzed the data. For aspiring young female attorneys, the best possible work association can be with an experienced mentor who has gone through all that you might be facing at the beginning of your career.

But why is the legal business so inhospitable for women?

I’m not talking about the standard “no promotions, less salary” talk about civil rights, it goes deeper than that.

In this article, I will share the numbers and stats to back my earlier claims, and show you exactly why there is a disparity between the numbers of female and male lawyers in Alabama, and what you can do to be part of an ongoing change in this area.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Okay, so it’s not as simple as it sounds, there are several variables here. Women of color have it worse than any other group (also when compared with a white woman), so race is also a factor. The Alabama State Bar has reported the following numbers, as per their latest records, and the revelations are shocking:

  • The bar has 14,304 regular members and 4,617 special members in total
  • There have been 117 new admittees recently
  • In total, the bar association contains 19,038 members (including both in state and out of state members)
  • Of this number, only 34.6% are female, i.e. 6,588 members
  • A majority (65.4%) are male members, i.e. 12,450
  • Most of the members of the association are Caucasian, this number is 16,934 and makes up 89% of the total number of member lawyers for Alabama
  • A mere 8% are African-American, this number is 1,524
  • Other races are only represented by 200 members which make up 1.1% of the total number

A couple of things are pretty obvious right off the bat: the representation of female lawyers, as far as employment in lawyers goes, is far from being equal. There are obviously some hurdles and factors that complicate things for female lawyers, especially women of color who’re grossly underrepresented. Races besides the African-American and Caucasian have the poorest representation and thus women belonging to such groups are least likely to be represented in a bar association. So your odds of coming across a female federal district judge of color in the supreme court are lower than the same for males or even a white woman.

However you look at it, female representation is not fair – it is a free country, people can get educated the way they want, pursue their professional goals without restriction (although there is trouble with college acceptance rates, actual enrollment rates, and employment rates), so why are there fewer female lawyers in Alabama? Female lawyers, through their dedication and hard work, have made quite a name for themselves in the legal sphere (i.e. in interim alimony cases, permanent alimony cases, smoothening divorce process, personal injury, reproductive rights activism, African-American worker’s right, etc.), and it is time that this gap is finally bridged.

Before we can do that, it is important to understand what keeps females from becoming what they can be as lawyers.

Has Are Women Under-Represented In The Legal Field?

34.6% of the lawyers in the Alabama State Bar are women, this is far below what we would call equal representation and equality of opportunity. To further explain the reason for this disparity, we must take into account what the professionals have to say – a recent study organized by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association uncovered some of the most important biases against female lawyers, such as:

  • Less pay, i.e. median salaries, median starting salary, and other salary statistics
  • Less likely to be promoted
  • Lower bar-passage rates
  • Likely to be interrupted
  • Likely to be mistaken for a non-lawyer
  • Be forced to do excessive housework
  • Be denied access to prime assignments and important cases

Here are the details:

Women Lawyers Are Often Mistaken For Non-Lawyers

What Percentage of Lawyers are Female in Alabama?

In the study group, 57% of the female active lawyers reported that they were often mistaken as the custodian staff, administrators, and other non-lawyer professionals. In the case of males, the instances were no more than 7%, showing a clear gender bias in this regard.

More Housework

Female active lawyers are also more likely to be stuck with piles and piles of non-legal homework while their male counterparts are not likely to receive such a large volume of such work. These assignments are important but not as much as the legal business itself, and since firms usually hand out things like these on a voluntary basis, women end up having to do most of it.

This is mostly because of social preconceptions about how women should be helpful and agreeable.

Assertive Behavior Is Not Welcome

Agreeability is seen as a valuable professional trait for women, and assertiveness, not so much. Usually, women who like their professional freedom and would want to be allowed to express it, are seen as over-confident. This leads to exclusion from important segments of the legal business, and also be denied progress at the desired pace.

Assertiveness is not only unwelcome but also punished.

Constant Interruptions

The female lawyers interviewed also stated that they were more likely to be interrupted when talking than their male counterparts, i.e. the quotients in lawyers were tilted against the females in this case. This is usually a result of people not realizing their ‘space’ and jumping into someone else’s. Of course, if it were to happen the other way around, it would be criticized on the spot.

The Pay Gap

The interviewees also felt that they were not being compensated fairly when compared to the lawyer earnings of their male professionals who had the same level of competency and qualifications. People doing the same level of work deserve to be compensated with the same wages for lawyers, regardless of their gender.

The Troubles Of Motherhood

Female firm lawyers who became mothers reported that they felt excluded from a lot of opportunities simply because they were at the stage of their lives where they had to take care of their children. Male lawyers at the same stage were not treated differently at all, based on estimates for lawyers.

Bottom Line: The Key Towards Establishing A More Inclusive & Equal Work Environment

The best way to eliminate workplace bias for female lawyers is to establish a more systemic approach to find areas where bias is hampering progress and then take concrete steps to eliminate inequality. Firstly, if firms use metrics to understand the pay gap and performance differences then not only will the productivity skyrocket but also, the firm will take its first step towards gender equality. Next, if the company has specific hiring qualifications and requirements for a certain post, then it would be easier to assess candidates on the basis of merit.

Usually, people hire other professionals like them if they don’t understand the culture fit for a given organization, and that can lead to hiring bias – companies can eliminate this by defining their culture fit objectively. Plus, there should be effective mentor-mentee cooperation programs to encourage young female professionals to be the best they can be. Lastly, housework should be managed such that one person, especially a lawyer for women, does not have to handle everything.

Hopefully, after reading through this article and understanding the problem, you’ll be better able to advocate for equality in the legal business.

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