The gender stratification of income inequality among lawyers

John Hagan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Lawyers play unique roles in creating new structures of stratification in the larger economy and in stratifying their own profession. Gender stratification within this profession produces income differences many times those observed in the larger labor force. Our analysis focuses on the changing structural settings, sectoral movements, and levels of class power that form gender specific mobility ladders for individuals in the profession. Each of these factors plays an independent role in the determination of earnings, usually to the advantage of men over women. More than a quarter of the difference in earnings of men and women lawyers can conservatively be attributed to gender discrimination. These findings provoke two questions for future consideration: How do women lawyers react to moving closer to the top of the class structure through the practice of law but to still being left behind men in their earnings? And what does it mean that gender discrimination is practiced in a profession that is linked so closely to the value placed in democratic societies on equal treatment? That these questions are infrequently asked, much less answered, adds a new dimension to Sorokin's warning that sociologists ignore the law, and therefore lawyers, at their peril.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-855
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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