Should I Stay or Should I Go? The Gender Gap for Securities and Exchange Commission Attorneys
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
The gender gap is a much debated labor market phenomenon. Our article seeks to examine it in a context where it has received less attention: government attorneys. Using data on lawyers from the Enforcement Division of the SEC, we find the following: First, men receive more of the assignments that lead to high-profile allegations. Second, men receive greater pay increases than women. Third, men are both more likely to move laterally than women, and more likely to move to lucrative private sector jobs. The question we address is what is causing these gaps in pay and assignments. The primary explanation for the gender gap from the extant literature is the gender differential in childcare responsibilities. Employing a novel methodology to gather data on children, we do not find substantial evidence that children affect pay and assignments at the SEC. The presence of children, however, does seem to affect the behavior of men and women differently in deciding when to leave the SEC. We also report evidence that changes in the work environment at the SEC reduce the gender gap by inducing some women to leave the SEC.