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Female Bosses Are Getting (a bit) More Respect

Vivia Chen

January 27, 2012

FemBoss©pressmaster - Fotolia.com1. Well, I guess this is progress—A majority of Americans don't give a hoot whether their boss is male or female. Harvard Business Review reports: "A recent online survey of more than 60,000 people by Kim M. Elsesser of UCLA and Janet Lever of California State University shows that the proportion having no preference now stands at 54 percent." (This is certainly a better result than the recent study that found that  secretaries much preferred working for male lawyers.)

This latest study notes that there's been a steady improvement in employee attitudes about women bosses. In 1953, 25 percent had no preference, according to a Gallup poll taken at the time (who knew there were even women in supervising positions back then?). By 1983, the number was 36 percent;  by 2006, it was 43 percent.

But before you assume everything is hunky-dory, Vault notes that most of the remaining 46 percent still preferred male to female bosses—"with 33 percent stating they would prefer male bosses, 13 percent preferring female bosses."

Vault also noted this "creepy (though amusing)" finding: Four percent of men who preferred female bosses said they found them "sexier/prettier," and 3 percent noted that they were "easier to manipulate." (Unsurprisingly, 0 percent of women reported this effect.)

2. Quick—hire their PR agencies! Four law firms are on Fortune's 100 best companies to work for list—and, by some miracle, they are the same ones from last year. The "I-can't-believe-they-are-law-firms" firms are:

    - Alston & Bird (#24 this year; #11 last year). Fortune touts the firm's treatment of support staff, who often "join task forces with lawyers and meet regularly to discuss operations." Now that sounds exciting.

   - Bingham & Dana: #30 this year, #28 last year. "Prima donnas and malicious jerks are practically unknown here." Really?

    - Baker Donelson: #54 this year, #50 last year. "One hourly clerk wrote that if the entire Baker Donelson staff were on the Titanic, managers would have dived in to save the staff," reports Fortune. My question: What is the definition of "manager"?

    - Perkins & Coie: #58 this year, #55 last year. Firm supposedly has "happiness committees" and gives frequent parties. Well, it is based in Seattle. (Not to worry--I'll be following up on this one.)

3. Miracle—the ABA takes a stand! The ABA has come out with new reporting rules that require law schools to be much more specific about how their graduates are employed. Reports Karen Sloan of The National Law Journal:

Individual schools would have to report 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile salary figures for graduates in jobs requiring a juris doctor degree; jobs in which a J.D. is preferred; jobs in other professions; and nonprofessional jobs. The salary breakdowns would have to be provided for 15 job categories, including solo practitioner, government attorney, public interest work, and academic.

Law schools would post this data on their Web sites for at least three years. Thus, prospective law students would have much more detailed information about different types of jobs and the salaries they pay, and would have an apples-to-apples comparison between different schools.

You know what I'm about to say: I'll believe it when I see it.

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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