In our busy days watching the markets, tracking the comings and goings at Heller (well, goings, anyhow), headlines like this, Pay Inequity for Women Paralegals, often get missed, but headlines like this, Shame, Shame: Gender Gap for Paralegals, don’t.

There’s a call for our collective anger. But might I be so bold to ask, where’s our CONSTRUCTIVE anger?? Let’s not turn this into a gender war, but use this as an opportunity to open a dialogue that will help resolve the issue, rather than divide it further.

For Chere Estrin, who first raised the issue here, she is focusing on gender inequality. Legal Blog Watch sums up Ms. Estrin’s post, “there is only one explanation, and that is that we still face a lack of equality between the genders. While we are less surprised by that in other fields, it is a shock for a field whose genesis is women.”

Is gender inequality the only explanation to the disparity in salaries? Not according to the comments that I read in Legal Blog Watch:

  • How about the studies that show that, for whatever reason, men tend to ask for more, and are less inclined to accept less, salary at the time of the job offer or pay raises.
  • A better explanation is probably found by examining what percentage of the difference in pay is due to overtime – and then finding out why there is an unequal allocation of late night work.

From the comments section of the Common Scold:

  • One of the biggest reasons why men are getting higher salaries is because they ask for them. Women tend to underestimate their value (and are sadly raised to avoid conflict) and, as a result, request salaries lower than their male counterparts. For example, a male paralegal may negotiate his salary upward from the offer, while a female paralegal may accept what is offered.
  • It would be interesting to look at how long women stay in a job compared to men. My sense is women stay at a firm longer than men which puts them into an annual COLA progression of salary, while the men jump firms and thereby jump salaries.

Hey, I agree, there is something wrong out there, but dropping bombs like this will only further the Us v. Them divide, and will halt all reasonable discussions:

The comment that women do a miserable job of negotiating salaries makes my blood boil. As a former exec in the legal staffing biz, I can assure you that is as much a wives tale and stereotype as anything else I have heard.

Does that mean that if a woman wears a short skirt, she’s asking to be raped? Employers have an obligation to keep those salaries equal.

Let’s get constructive and look at all the facts, all of the studies. If it turns out that women don’t negotiate well, then I recommend reading Talking 9 to 5. If it turns out that you work for a sexist jerk, update your resume and find a better job.