Where are women equity partners in law firms: discrimination?
Recent research by Laurence Simons shows that only 16% of partners in Magic Circle law firms in the UK are female. Two thirds of female lawyers state their gender is a barrier to their success. This is no surprise and there have been a stream of articles in the Law Society Gazette (last one on 23 February).
WHY are there not more women equity partners
*45.8% of solicitors with practising certificates are women - a figure which has nearly doubled in 10 years
*extensive research has shown that women are as ambitious as men, make great leaders and are passionate about what they do
*21% of partners in private practice law firms are women
BUT there are 2 major reasons - both discrimination on grounds of pregnancy/maternity or indirect sex discrimination
*First, many women fall off the partnership ladder when pregnant, not of their own choosing but because pregnant women are often a less attractive proposition to employers who fear a reduction in 'commitment'. Another common scenario is that roles and responsibilities are diminished on return from maternity leave
*Second, the long hours culture which is not compatible with childcare
The Law Society's Flexible Working protocol should be adopted by law firms and we should continue counting - naming and shaming if necessary.
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