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Women lawyers in red celebrate 25 years of progress, vow to continue fight for equality

Women lawyers in red celebrate 25 years of progress, vow to continue fight for equality

By Gabriel McIntosh

Women lawyers gathered at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting on Aug. 9 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, which was established to secure full and equal participation of women in the legal profession.

“We should take a moment to celebrate because as we look back at these last 25 years, a lot has been accomplished,” said Mary B. Cranston, chair of the commission. “Today is a good day to celebrate where we have come, but also to realize that we are going to have a lot ahead of us.”

Related video: Women lawyers celebrate 25 years of progress, vow to renew fight for equality

The event was part of a full day of programming focused on women in the legal profession, called “The Day of the Woman.”

ABA President Laurel Bellows toasted with champagne the accomplishments of female lawyers and the work that still remains.  “I will drink this champagne to us and to the work we have accomplished,” she said. “There is inequality in this country, let’s recognize it and let’s eradicate it.”

Bellows established the ABA Gender Equity Task Force early in her presidential year to address this inequality, and much of the group’s work is focused on addressing the wage gap between men and women.

At a Day of the Woman program earlier in the day, Task Force Chair Roberta Liebenberg discussed the gap.  “This pay disparity exists in all 50 states, at all education and seniority levels,” she said.  “It is not just a women’s issue, it is a family issue. Over 50 percent of our American households have women breadwinners.”

Day of the Woman participants wore red to symbolize how far “in the red” women are in regard to financial compensation when compared to their male counterparts.

“The color of red is supposed to symbolize how far it takes for women to get compensated, but I look at this color of red and I see the power of the force in this room and the power of the force we will take to really effectuate change,” Liebenberg told participants at the anniversary event.

Bellows encouraged the women lawyers to take advantage of the resources developed by the task force, including three practical guides aimed at helping female attorneys achieve pay equity with their male counterparts: Closing the Gap: A Road Map for Achieving Gender Pay Equity in Law Firm Partner CompensationPower of the Purse: How General Counsel Can Impact Pay Equity for Women Lawyers andWhat You Need to Know about Negotiating Compensation.

A video of the Day of the Woman rally is available here.

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