62% of women lawyers say gender hinders career progress

by NZ Lawyer15 Jun 2016
Six in 10 female lawyers believe that their gender has impeded the growth of their careers, according to a new research by recruitment specialist Laurence Simmons.
In its latest survey, the firm found out that 62% of women lawyers felt that their gender had prevented them from getting the top roles in the legal profession, UK tabloid law website Legal Cheek reported.
In contrast, only 16% of male lawyers said their gender had acted as barriers in their careers.
The study, which polled more than 1,000 partner profiles, revealed that 21% of partners at Magic Circle firms and 19% of partners at Silver Circle firms are women.
Nearly half or 47% of the respondents said enforced or voluntary quotas would be “ineffective” in addressing gender inequality among the leading law firms.
The respondents suggested other ways to close the gap such as focusing on flexible working arrangements, retention of top female talent and leadership development programmes tailored to women.
While 42% of women lawyers supported quotas to ensure gender balance at partnership level, only 16% of their male counterparts agreed with them.
The Laurence Simmons report suggested that it will take 64 years to have equal gender representation at the senior level in law firms.
“Gender quotas are very much chicken before the egg and to truly solve the problem of gender equality in the legal industry we need to tackle the root causes of the issue, not just tinker with the results of a dysfunctional system,” Laurence Simons global managing director Clare Butler was quoted as saying in the Legal Cheek report.
“Key to overcoming the gender equality problem is setting up a forum in law firms, and amongst legal teams, where women feel comfortable discussing the attitudes and practices that might be holding them back,” Butler added.