Pay Differences Among the Highly Trained: Cohort Differences in the Male-Female Earnings Gap in Lawyers’ Salaries.

June 2003

Mary C. Noonan, Department of Sociology, University of Iowa. Mary E. Corcoran, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan. Paul N. Courant, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan.

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Abstract

Using unique data from University of Michigan Law School graduates we test predictions from three sets of social science explanations of gender-based earnings gaps as to how sex differences in pay should have evolved as women entered an elite male field: law. We compare male/female differences in earnings 15 years after graduation for two cohorts: (1) men and women who graduated from law school between 1972 and 1978, and (2) men and women who graduated from law school between 1979 and 1985. We find that the gender gap in earnings has remained relatively constant; 15 years after graduation, women in both cohorts earn approximately 60% of men’s earnings. Penalties to part-time work and career interruptions also remain steady. While within occupation sex segregation has declined over time, sex differences in hours worked have increased and assume a more prominent role in explaining the sex gap in lawyers’ earnings.



Keywords:
Employment, Unemployment, and the Labor Market