"Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Gender Gap for Securities and Exchange Commission Attorneys"

Michigan Law Authors
Areas of Interest
Publish Date
Journal of Law and Economics
Publication Type
Journal Article

Most research on the gender gap in the legal profession focuses on the private
sector. We look at the gender gap in a setting where one might expect the gaps
to be smaller: the Division of Enforcement of the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC), which has a reputation for providing employees with good childcare
and work flexibility. We find a substantial gender gap in assignments but
only a modest one in pay. Men are also more likely to move laterally and more
likely to move to lucrative private-sector jobs. What causes these gaps? The primary
explanation for the gender gap from the extant literature is the gender differential
in childcare. We do not find substantial evidence that having children
affects pay and assignments at the SEC. The presence of children, however, does
seem to affect the behavior of men and women differently in deciding when to
leave the SEC.