Assimilation, choice, or constraint? Testing theories of gender differences in the careers of lawyers

Kathleen E. Hull*, Robert L Nelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using data on lawyers in Chicago, we test competing hypotheses derived from three broad theoretical models of gender differences in professional careers: assimilation, choice, and constraint. Men and women begin their careers in different practice contexts and the differences grow over time. The magnitude of these persistent differences argues against an assimilationist view. Some of the divergence in career paths appears attributable to individual choices and preferences, but these do not fully account for the observed gender differences. Human-capital endowments are significant predictors of career positions but also fail to explain the observed gender differences. Women's overrepresentation in less prestigious and less remunerative settings and their underrepresentation in law-firm partnerships suggest that constraints continue to affect women's professional career opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-264
Number of pages36
JournalSocial Forces
Volume79
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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