To fully examine advancement and retention issues among women attorneys of color, the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession embarked upon a research initiative to answer the following questions:
Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms
- What attracts women of color to the legal profession?
- Do their work experiences surpass or fall short of expectations?
- How do legal employers hinder or increase job satisfaction? and
- Why do women attorneys of color change practice areas and organizations - or leave the profession at an alarming rate?
presents the findings of the survey and focus group research and concludes with specific recommendations for law firms interested in retaining women of color.
Key findings include:
- Nearly two-thirds of women of color said they had been excluded from networking opportunities, compared with 4% of white men.
- Nearly half of women of color said they had experienced demeaning comments or harassment, compared with 3% of white men.
- 44% of women of color said they had been denied desirable assignments, compared to 2% of white men.
- 53% of women of color chose to continue practicing in law firms, compared to 72% of white men.
A study in 2005 by the National Association for Law Placement found that 81% of minority female associates left firms within five years of being hired. Visible Invisibility
is a critical tool that law firms can incorporate into their diversity initiatives to eliminate the double whammy of gender and race discrimination faced by women of color.