by Nicole Flatow
In spite of a stated commitment to gender equality at the nation’s largest law firms, the number of women equity partners has held flat at 15 percent, a new National Law Journal study reveals.
The equity partner rate has been stuck at that same exact level for 20 years now, according to a 2011 National Association of Women Lawyers report cited by NLJ.
The overall partner percentages are slightly more encouraging -- the percentage of both equity and nonequity women partners increased to 18.8 percent from 16 percent from 2003. And it is at the largest and most profitable firms where women have made the greatest gains, according to NLJ.
On the state and federal bench, the percentage of women judges increased a slight 0.5 percent between 2011 and 2012 to 27.1 percent, although the percentage of federal women judges actually declined 0.1 percent, according to data from the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society at the State University of New York-Albany.
"This is both good news and bad news," center director Dina Refki told The National Law Journal. "The good news is that there is movement, at least at the state level. But the bad news is that the rate of change is so slow — and, in the case of the federal benches, we are experiencing a setback."
President Barack Obama has achieved record diversity on the federal bench -- securing confirmation of more ethnic minorities than any other president. But his progress in diversifying the federal courts has been limited by record Senate obstruction of his diverse judicial nominees.