Women in the Law

Gender More of an Advancement Hurdle than Race, In-House Survey Finds

Women of color working in corporate legal departments find gender to be more of a barrier to advancement than race, according to a new survey.

Fifty-two percent of survey respondents said being a woman was a significant barrier, compared to about 35 percent who said race harmed advancement, the Careerist reports.

Experts interviewed suggested a couple reasons why. First: There are fewer opportunities to advance in house, so everyone is in the same boat. Second: Corporations have a long history of diversity, and politics plays a smaller role in work assignments.

Corporate Counsel also had news of the 2009 survey, conducted by Corporate Counsel Women of Color and summarized in a new report. The survey of minority lawyers working in-house at Fortune 1000 companies also found:

• Sixty-seven percent of minority women lawyers preferred working in-house to law firms.

• The top factor in job satisfaction was being valued.

• Sixteen percent said they were the only person of color in their department. About 55 percent said their law departments were less than 20 percent diverse.

The survey was based on online responses from 857 lawyers, 500 conference attendees and 40 focus group participants.

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