We aimed to start researching the present to devise a clearer advocacy plan for the Next 100 Years campaign based on the experience of women in law currently practicing across all of the legal
In 2019 we surveyed over 750 solicitors, barristers and other women working in the legal profession with the aim of gaining an insight into the experience of women in the legal sector The results found that, in the centenary year of women being in the profession, there were still considerable barriers to progression and equality.
• 58% said they or colleagues have experienced inappropriate comments from men at work. Almost half (46%) reported that either they or one of their colleagues had not complained about discrimination for fear of the impact on their careers.
• Only 2 think there is true equality in the legal profession
• 80 predict it will take 20 years or more to achieve equality
• 32 consider that, at the current rate of progress, it will take 100 years
• The majority 60 believe that working part time would impact on their career prospects
• Whilst 54 say they receive encouragement from senior women in the workplace, a failure of employers to accommodate the realities of family life continues to hold women back
• 28 say they have considered leaving their job due to a lack of flexible working 39 say their working hours are not compatible with family life
One barrister said: “When I announced my second pregnancy, a senior male said to me ‘goodness you didn’t keep your legs shut for long’ A law firm trainee reported that those at the top of my firm are aware of some of the sexual harassers and do nothing to stop or address them.”
A solicitor responded: “The partners in my firm have been very supportive of me I was always told that it wasn’t possible to do this job part time but here I am working three days a week, with flexible, agile working and term time only, so that I can spend quality time with my three young children.”
On 23rd December 2019, the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, the project’s founder, Dana Denis Smith joined Cherie Blair QC, Abi Silver, Beth Collette, Mari Takayanagi Katharine McMahon and Jacqui MacDonald to discuss the findings of the survey, the last 100 years for women in the profession and what still needs to be done.
You can listen to the programme here.