Sexism still rife, survey says

FEW female solicitors appear to support Law Society president Martin Mears' comments that the Equal Opportunities Commission has outlived its usefulness, according to a survey on sexual discrimination.

The survey of 378 female solicitors in UK firms, conducted by legal recruitment consultants Daniels Bates, found that only 30 per cent thought they had the same career opportunities as male counterparts.

Only 27 per cent felt they had the same chance of progressing to partnership as a man and 32 per cent said their overall reward package was likely to be less than that enjoyed by a male colleague performing the same duties.

Daniels Bates managing director Timothy Bates said: “The situation is getting better for women but because the subject is often ignored they don't understand that things are changing. The problem is a perceived problem.”

But Eileen Pembridge, a member of the Law Society's equal opportunities committee, said: “I do not agree that the problem is just a perceived problem. Women do still feel restricted. The problem lies in that the gatekeepers in firms are still men.”

Sam James, chair of the Young Women Lawyers group, said: “[The survey] is depressing in light of the views of the Law Society's president.”

Glenys Arden, chair of the Association of Women Lawyers, said: “Women's perception of their position in male-dominated law firms is reflected in their own reluctance to become partners. There is a trend towards women setting up on their own in order to avoid the present culture.”