Male lawyers encouraged to get 'in the mix'


One thing all lawyers are trained to do — listen to all viewpoints to resolve conflict ­— should be applied to the gender equity gap in the legal profession, according to a new report from the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.

The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession released “Men in the Mix: How to Engage Men on Issues Related to Gender in the Legal Profession.”

Among the findings of “Men in the Mix: How to Engage Men on Issues Related to Gender in the Legal Profession,” 83 percent of male respondents said they do not participate in female lawyers’ affinity groups because they feel uncomfortable as an outsider or are afraid they might say the “wrong thing” and be perceived as biased.

A majority of respondents —62 percent — cited “not being invited” as the reason they have not joined efforts to advance female lawyers’ equity in the profession. 

“This report shows that we need to do a better job reaching out to our male colleagues to join us as allies in the conversation regarding gender equity,” said Maureen Mulligan, chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. “We need diversity of thought and we need diverse talent in the legal
profession. In order to have that, we need to be inclusive.”

The report is based on research gathered from focus groups held in New York, Dallas and San Francisco that revealed insights about why some men are more actively engaged in issues facing female lawyers than others, with the goal of getting more men into the “mix” of the gender equity conversation.

A lack of participation by men often leads to an “echo chamber,” where women are only talking to each other about how to gain access to the same experiences as male colleagues in the legal profession. Despite years of effort, female lawyers have made little progress advancing into leadership positions at law firms.

“Men can and do play a critical role in promoting equity for women in the legal profession. More than ever, we need men to be allies for women lawyers, and this report provides helpful, concrete strategies for them to do so,” ABA President Patricia Lee Refo said.

The report is part of a larger initiative that includes a toolkit with dialogue scripts and a sample PowerPoint deck to assist organizers when hosting a Men in the Mix event.


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