This year marks the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 that paved the way for women to enter into the legal profession.
In a series of articles we look at just some of the issues facing women working in the legal sector…
As a ‘Woman in Law’, what would you change about the profession, the industry, the system etc?
Principal Associate Solicitor
In general, I think that ‘the law’ now encompasses so many different types of career that there is a place for most career aspirations, certainly more so now than when I started on this path 20 years ago.
I would however like to see more role models amongst the judiciary and senior management, and also at board level of legal businesses. It would be a huge incentive to women entering the profession to be able to point to more and more success stories.
Sometimes it is about the lack of opportunity to gather relevant experience that holds women back from being able to apply for some of those positions, and a concerted review of how that experience gap could be bridged would be time well spent in my opinion.
In general I would like to see more women in the judiciary and senior management, and for this to be celebrated throughout the industry. The fact that in 2018 we had our first female President of The Supreme Court, the wonderful Lady Hale, is a reflection of how far the profession has come since its first female was called to the English Bar in 1922, but it’s clear that we are still some way from becoming a gender equal profession.
In my 12 years of working within the legal industry I have seen change in female leadership and the confidence in women speaking up about gender bias and wanting a change. I would like to see the industry becoming more transparent in pay between men and women, and, for the industry to be a reflection of people within society. Not just that of women, but also, ethnicity, social background and sexual orientation.
As lawyers we need to be able to sympathise with our clients and understand their needs by expanding the diversity throughout the industry and by making it more accessible for everyone to come into the profession. This will provide a more rounded industry.
Senior Associate Solicitor
Mentoring and supporting younger women coming through the profession is so important. Besides flexible working, women need female role models/mentors to gain the confidence to aim for more senior positions. I am lucky to have a female team leader and head of department to inspire and encourage me.
I also had a working mother whose mantra was always ‘It’s not the quantity but the quality of time’, so thanks to her I have less guilt than many of my working mother friends whose own mums stayed at home whilst only dad went to work.
The important thing is to respect everyone’s choices but for there to be more options to choose from. Any disparity needs to be talked about openly and honestly. We have a women’s network at DAS UK which does a fantastic job in ensuring this happens and women can feel informed and supported, while the company is also actively considering how to assist more women to progress to senior positions.
Finally, of course, men also need to be on board to support equality in the workplace and at home!