Not Worth the Sacrifice? Women's Aspirations and Career Progression in Law Firms

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46 Citations (Scopus)


Although there has been a dramatic rise in the numbers of women entering the legal profession, women are far less likely than men to work as law firm partners. While there is evidence to suggest that women experience barriers to career progression, Hakim (2006) contends that not all women wish to advance to higher levels in their organizations and those who do may choose to remain childless and therefore not be interested in workfamily/life policies. Against the backdrop of this debate, this article examines women's career aspirations and perceptions of their opportunities for promotion among a large sample of lawyers (N = 384). It was found that women with strong aspirations for advancement to partnership did not necessarily eschew the need for a balanced life-style. All female lawyers, however, including those with strong aspirations for partnership, perceived that their opportunities for promotion were relatively constrained. It was the nature of a law firm's workfamily/life culture, as well as the availability of flexible working, that exerted the most important influences on female lawyers' perceptions of their ability to progress in their careers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-531
Number of pages24
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number5
Early online date26 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


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