So much chatter about how European women—particularly the French—have it so much better. As everyone knows, they get generous maternity leaves, job security, and subsidized, high-quality child care. Not to mention they get to consume gobs of butter, cream, and cheese—without ever getting fat! Now, the word is out that French women are better parents too, raising impeccably adorable, polite children—or so says a new book, Bringing Up Bébé.
They've got societal support, savoir faire, and innate chic. So why shouldn't French women be making greater strides in their careers too?
In fact, they've passed a notable milestone in the legal arena. According to The Lawyer, there are now more French women than men in the Paris bar. In fact, "over half of all female lawyers in Paris (52.7 per cent) are associates in large firms, compared to 31.4 per cent of men," says The Lawyer, reporting on a recent study by the Paris bar.
So women lawyers in France must be way ahead of their soeurs américaines, non? Pas du tout.
Sadly, it's a familiar story: lots of women in the junior ranks, but few in partnership—except that the gap seems even worse in France. Reports The Lawyer:
In 2005 12.6 percent of female lawyers in Paris were partners in a large firm, compared to 29.6 percent of male lawyers. By 2011 15.6 percent of women were partners, but the proportion of men who were partners had also risen, to 36 percent.
That female equity partner figure is just as pathetic as the one in the United States (in the U.S., women also make up around 16 percent of equity partners in big firms, according to the National Association of Women Lawyers). But the difference is that American female lawyers still constitute less than half (about 45 percent) of big-firm associates.
Like their American sisters, female French lawyers are also making less money than their male counterparts. According to a recent study by the Paris bar, "the average salary or profits for female lawyers in Paris was €57,818 ($76,308) compared to an average salary of €96,536 ($127,409) for men," reports The Lawyer. "The median salary for women was €42,000 ($55,320), compared to a median salary of €69,000 ($91,066) for men."
What accounts for this gap? The study says it's partially "due to the fact that male lawyers are collectively older than their female counterparts," reports The Lawyer. Also, "more female lawyers are associates and tend to work in less lucrative practice areas."
Basically, you can imagine the same explanations we've been hearing for the money/power gap between male and female lawyers in the United States: It's a pipeline issue. It's work/life balance difficulty. It's the glass ceiling.
In other words: Who knows?
Related post: Les Femmes Fatiguées