A report by the ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession found that women hold between 28 percent and 36 percent of leadership positions within the organization, depending on the category of the job. That’s on par with the percentage of women members of the organization — about 32 percent — but the report found a few causes for concern.
The number of women in ABA leadership roles has been on the rise since 1991, but that growth has “remained relatively static or slightly decreased in recent years,” the commission reported.
“The analysis of the [women in leadership] reports over the years make it clear that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels,” it wrote. “We also need to renew our efforts to open doors, break down barriers, and continue to fill the pipeline of women in all arenas in the legal profession.”
One of the biggest red flags raised in the report is that the percentage of women serving as section or division chairs fell by 10 percent — from 39 percent last year to 29 percent this year. Only 26 percent of the chairs elected to serve next year are women.
Women made slight improvements in other areas of ABA leadership, however. They comprise nearly 37 percent of the Board of Governors, up from 35 percent last year. They represent 33 percent of section or division officers, up from 31 percent last year — although that figure remains below the 36 percent peak seen in 2006-07.
The proportion of women in the House of Delegates, the ABA’s policy-making body, ticked up by 1 percentage point, to 32 percent this year. Still, 14 ABA jurisdictions elected no women delegates this year, the report noted. Those jurisdictions include New Jersey, Ohio, Washington and Virginia.
ABA President William Robinson III has appointed a relatively high percentage of women to standing and special committees. Forty-four percent of his appointees are women, compared to 42 percent by his immediate predecessor, Steve Zack.
The report is produced annually by the ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession.
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