Gender Equality Needs More Prominent Position In Society
March 8 marked the annual International Women’s Day (IWD). Whilst ‘great strides’ have been taken since the Sex Disqualification Act was passed in 1919, allowing women to train as a solicitor, recent Law Society research indicates that the legal sector still needs to place gender equality on a higher pedestal as there is a clear gap between women in law and women in senior leadership roles.
The Women in Leadership in Law report found that in total the number of admissions into the legal profession was 6,372, according to Regional figures for women in law 2017-2018. Of that amount, 62.2% of the admissions were women.
Whilst women dominate those entering the profession, of the 32,319 number of partner equivalents in 2017-18, only 30.8% were made up of women and only 4.7% were representative of Black, Asian or Mixed Ethnicity (BAME) women.
Although 74% of men believed that progress was being made in relation to gender equality, only 48% of women agreed.
52% believe there is an unconscious bias preventing further developments being made with 49% viewing work life balance and expectations as unrealistic for women with families.
Overall, 91% of respondents were clear that flexible working was critical to improving equality in the legal sector.
Similarly, new research by comparemymove.com has also corroborated these figures with suggestions that a clear gender pay gap is significantly delaying female first-time buyers from purchasing their first property.
On average, men aged between 22 and 29-years-old earn £1,584.60 per month. In comparison, women are bringing home £1,480.65, over £100 less per month. This reduced income stream, combined with living costs and average monthly rents, places an increasing strain on female buyers that aim to purchase their home independently.
According to the research, it takes the average British female FTB 3 years and 8 months to save a 10% deposit while renting. In comparison, it would take a male FTB, in identical circumstances, only 3 years to save the same deposit.
According to the report, on average, men aged between 22 and 29-year old are able to save £100 per month toward their deposit.
The average 10% deposit in Cambridge will cost £37,196. It will take a female FTB 11 years and 9 months, whilst a male will save the deposit in 7 years and 11 months, saving them 3 years and 10 months overall. Whilst the average female was able to save £265 per month, their male counterpart was able to find an additional £130 a month.
13 major UK cities revealed similar results with women spending between a year and 3 years longer to save their deposits.
Even in cities like Dundee, where reduced prices mean FTBs need to save less for a deposit, it would still take a female buyer an additional month to save for the deposit. You can find the full results here.
Christina Blacklaws, Law Society president, said: “2019 is the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, which allowed women to train as solicitors, serve as magistrates and sit on juries.
“The profession has made great strides over the past hundred years but there is still a long journey to gender equality, particularly at senior levels in certain regions of England and Wales.
“We hope our new Women in Leadership in Law report will assist legal businesses with the insight and tools to drive diversity – right up to the most senior levels – and create equal opportunities for all.
“More than half of the respondents we interviewed in our survey on women in the law cited perceived unconscious bias as the greatest barrier to women’s career progression with an overwhelming 91% saying flexible working is critical to improving diversity.
“As a profession which endeavours to uphold justice, the legal profession needs to lead the way in the fight for equality in the workplace.
“To create a more diverse senior leadership, diversity and gender equality must be placed at the heart of business decisions. The profession needs to come together to combat unconscious bias, encourage flexible working and meet both men and women’s working needs.”
Have you found that women take longer to save for their deposit? Do employers need to place more emphasis into gender equality to avoid these gaps from widening?