Women lawyers working in-house are far more likely than men to make lower salaries, and yet in a recent survey of over 1,800 in-house counsel, 34 percent of men said they do not “at all” believe a gender compensation gap exists.
According to the report published this week by the Association of Corporate Counsel, there are far more women in the lower in-house income brackets, and there are far more men in the highest earning brackets.
And yet the gender differences in how in-house counsel view their own pay distributions is striking.
Survey-takers were asked the following question: “Some research shows that a global compensation gap between men and women exists. In your opinion, do you believe this is the case among in-house counsel in your jurisdiction?”
In response, women were six times as likely to say they “definitely” believe the compensation gap exists and more than two times as likely to say they “somewhat” do. It’s worth noting that 35 percent of men said they didn’t know or weren’t sure they believed in a gender compensation gap, roughly twice the percentage of women who said they didn’t know.
Claudia Goldin, a Harvard economics professor who studies the gender pay gap, said the ACC survey questions were not detailed enough to draw any broad conclusions. It remains unclear, for example, whether women are paid less for the same in-house counsel jobs or whether women are more likely to work for smaller companies that offer lower salaries. But she was unfazed by the difference in how men and women view the compensation gap.
“If you ask men if they think there’s sexual harassment in their firms, I’m sure you’d get the same numbers,” she told Big Law Business. “The bottom line is that perceptions are often very different. Every woman knows they are shut up in groups, that men talk over them, but if you ask a man who just talked over a woman he would say no.”
The differences in belief are also reflected in the lawyers’ answers to questions about job satisfaction. Among the survey respondents, 53 percent of men said they believe they are adequately paid for their work, while 43 percent of women said they are not adequately compensated.
The ACC’s survey was conducted from June 21 to August 2, 2016, polling a total of 1,889 in-house lawyers across 53 countries. 31 percent of respondents work outside of the US.