Helping Hand or Queen Bee? The Impact of Senior-Level Women on Junior-Level Women Within Organizations

by Tessa Wiegand

Institution: Harvard University
Degree: AB
Year: 2015
Keywords: Economics, Labor; Women's Studies
Record ID: 2059750
Full text PDF: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:14398528


This paper uses the relationship between female partners and associates in the 200 largest United States law firms to explore the impact of senior-level women on junior-level women. I look within firms to see how the percentage of female associates changes based upon the percentage of female partners and how other mechanisms effect the causality of that relationship. I find that a 10-percentage point increase in female partners leads to a 4.7-percentage point increase in female associates, but approximately half of the effect is due to fixed factors within firms and years. This effect is asymmetric; increases in female partners have much larger effects on female associates than do decreases. Female partners also have a greater effect in firms with fewer female partners. Next, I use time lags and find that while female partners have a significant impact on female associates’ retention, the decision to join the firm is influenced by other female associates. Furthermore, I find that the female partners present when current associates were summer associates have a negative impact on the full-time hiring of female associates and their decision to join the firm full-time. Finally, I find that the positive impact of female partners was substantially mitigated during the Global Financial Crisis