“Male Paralegals: Is There Really a Glass Elevator?”

Very interesting question raised on LawCrossing. Diversity in the workplace is good, right?

"It is not uncommon these days to see more men doing traditionally female jobs such as teaching preschool and kindergarten and working as librarians, legal assistants or paralegals, bank tellers, speech pathologists, secretaries, data-entry workers, nurses, or even maids. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2005, 13.7% of paralegals were men. In 2004, the percentage was barely 11%.

"Experts who study the labor market have hypothesized that an unstable job market may lead more males to seek employment in alternative careers. And does that come as a surprise? Women who cross into traditionally male-dominated professions often do so for financial reasons and end up earning bigger paychecks than they would in traditionally female jobs.

"Men who do the reverse may not be rewarded with larger salaries, but they may find more job security. Additionally, men are frequently able to advance further and faster in traditionally female jobs than their female counterparts. This is what is sometimes known as the glass-elevator [or escalator] effect [PDF].

"Howard Lee is a legal assistant at law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen in Richmond, VA. He said that he feels being a man in a traditionally female profession has its benefits.

"’I feel [male] paralegals have great chances of securing final interviews and, ultimately, job placement,’ said Lee. ‘Many HR departments are trying to get more diversity in the paralegal workforce.’"

2 Replies to ““Male Paralegals: Is There Really a Glass Elevator?””

  1. My experience since relocating to Florida in December of 04 is that, at least here, the job of paralegal has been powerfully sex-stereotyped. I, a male with over 15 years’ experience (not to mention a legal education and many years’ experience doing attorney level work such as brief writing) cannot get hired as a paralegal and, without exception, when the employer is a government entity, the person hired has ALWAYS been a less well educated or qualified female (often younger, too, but that’s another story.)

    I have had to both dumb down my resume, and reduce my first name to an initial even to get a telephone call, and the hiring person (again, always a female) often sounds irritated when she learns I am a man.

    Additionally, I recently have begun to run into some employers who require (absolutely) community college level paralegal training in order to be considered for paralegal positions. Such training is useful for people with a high school education only, but can actually be a step downward for more highly qualified people. The problem is that if you look at the numbers from these training programs, you find that the vast majority of the people passing through them are women. Therefore, to require such education is, essentially, to require that you be a female.

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