The Gap [PrawfsBlawg]Both female partners and female associates lag behind their male counterparts in pay, and the difference largely shows up in the respective bonuses paid to each. Finally, "[t]he majority of large firms have, at most, two women members on their highest governing committee. A substantial number have either no women (11 percent of firms) or only one woman (35 percent of firms) on their highest governing committee."
We know that nearly half of law students are women, so we must question why women are not faring nearly as well in private practice as are their male counterparts.
A lot of women in law schools, but only a few women in top position. That looks awfully like what is happening to Asian Americans. As Wesley Yang noted in his New York Magazine article:
But there is a difference between women and Asian Americans, and the difference is in the way people go about trying to figure out why women/Asian Americans are lacking in the top position. Few people dare to speak about how it's the women's fault that they are underrepresented at the top. Many people may think to themselves that women are dumb, emotional and unfit as leaders, but few dare speak out their minds because the social consequence will be swift and harsh. (Recall what happened to Lawrence Summers.) On the other hand, people feel quite free to discuss how it is really Asian Americans' fault -- because Asian Americans are uncritical and uncreative robots -- that Asian Americans are underrepresented at the top. Why?According to a recent study, Asian-Americans represent roughly 5 percent of the population but only 0.3 percent of corporate officers, less than 1 percent of corporate board members, and around 2 percent of college presidents. There are nine Asian-American CEOs in the Fortune 500. In specific fields where Asian-Americans are heavily represented, there is a similar asymmetry. A third of all software engineers in Silicon Valley are Asian, and yet they make up only 6 percent of board members and about 10 percent of corporate officers of the Bay Area’s 25 largest companies. At the National Institutes of Health, where 21.5 percent of tenure-track scientists are Asians, only 4.7 percent of the lab or branch directors are, according to a study conducted in 2005.
-EDIT 11/18/2011- After reading the comments, a few more thoughts:
- As several commenters pointed out, it is absolutely true that not only sexists harbor their thoughts about the supposed unfitness of women as leaders, but they also often share their thoughts in casual conversations. The Korean never intended to deny that. But the point still holds that people are ready to blame Asian Americans than women for their respective underrepresentation in the top of their fields. The point also holds that the social consequences of blaming the victim differ on who is blamed. President of Harvard had to resign for blaming women for being underrepresented at the top. Wesley Yang gets a cover story of the New York Magazine by blaming Asian Americans for being underrepresented at the top. The Korean still does not fully understand why the treatments are disparate.
- Another difference in this context: the willingness of the women and Asian Americans to accede to the arguments that blame them. It appeared that, in response to Lawrence Summers' remark, women were unanimously indignant. Surely no women stood up to extol Summers for bravely exposing something that had to be said. In contrast, a number of Asian Americans stood up and cheered for Wesley Yang's article that blamed Asian culture for the underrepresentation of Asian Americans at the top. (You can read some of the reactions in the comment section of that article.) Again, why?
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.