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13 J. Paralegal Educ. & Prac. 21 (1997)
Gender Issues in the Paralegal Profession and in Paralegal Education

handle is hein.journals/jpep13 and id is 29 raw text is: Gender Issues in the Paralegal Profession
and in Paralegal Education
The paralegal profession, approximately thirty years old, has
established itself as a new and growing profession that primarily attracts
women.' This fact gives rise to the three issues that will be explored in
this article. First, what are the implications of this profession being
dominated by females? Because the paralegal profession is a relatively
new field, there has been little research with regard to this question.
However, sociologists have conducted extensive research related to other
female-dominated professions, women working within male-dominated
professions, and to women coming to dominate professions once
dominated by men. The medical and legal professions, which include
doctors, nurses, and lawyers, have provided insights into the dynamics of
women in professions with varying attraction for men and women.
The second issue focuses on what attracts women and men to the
paralegal profession. What are the ramifications of the choice of
profession for each gender, particularly for women? This issue is
important to educators because paralegal educators, as one of the first
sources of professional information about paralegals, can help students
perceive their chosen career in a broader social and economic context.
This perception may also help the paralegal career mature into a
profession that is respected.
Finally, what are the implications for classroom instruction when
educators teach classes filled with women who will join a female-
dominated profession? Some of the research into classroom dynamics
and its implications for paralegal educators is explored below.
* Lynne D. Dahlborg is an associate professor and program director in the Paralegal Studies
Program, Department of Education and Human Services at Suffolk University in Boston,
Massachusetts. She received her J.D. from Suffolk University. The author wishes to express her
appreciation to the editors of this article, whose help was invaluable.
1 In this article, the terms paralegal and legal assistant are used interchangeably, with
paralegal being the most frequent term. Although legal assistant is the term that has been
preferred by the American Bar Association, the author believes that paralegal is the more
commonly used term.

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