I was honestly amazed to read this article summarizing a study that concluded that "female lawyers more likely to practice in firms, less likely to make partner." It wasn't the results of the study that surprised me--it was that the study was conducted in the first instance.
Apparently, a University of Iowa sociologist "analyzed data collected from two groups of Michigan Law School graduates -- the classes of 1972-78 and 1979-85 -- who completed surveys one, five and 15 years after graduation."
After conducting extensive analysis, she concluded that:
The legal profession's efforts to promote diversity are working to get women lawyers in the law firm door, but once they're in, they remain less likely to be promoted to partner...
The study...found that women who practiced in a firm for five or more years were 13 percent less likely than men to make partner, even if their qualifications were equal and regardless of whether they had children.
I could have told you that without conducting a study.
The article did have some interesting observations about the reasons for the disparity, even though the results of the study seemed fairly obvious. From the end of the article:
"Older men tend to feel less comfortable spending time with a young woman than with a young man. With the guys, it's more of a father-son bond -- let's play some golf, let's hit happy hour, and I'll give you some advice about your career and see what I can do to help you," she said. "Men might shy away from that type of mentoring relationship with a young woman because they're afraid of what people will think."
And, Noonan notes, the selection process for partnership isn't necessarily objective. Even if a woman does well in her work, colleagues with the clout to name partners may still have difficulty picturing her in a position of power.