Top sets lag behind on female silks

Women are still under- represented at the bar, accounting for just 28 female silks in the top 30 sets and less than a quarter of their tenants.

Exclusive research carried out for The Lawyer UK 100 Annual Report 2006 revealed that there are just 423 female tenants in the bar’s top 30 sets, or 22.7 per cent of the 1,860 total barristers, compared with 30 per cent at the whole bar.

Of the 437 QCs in the top 30 sets at the end of the last financial year, only 28, a mere 6 per cent, were women – an average of less than one female silk per set.

Regional sets have the most female tenants. The bar’s largest set No 5 Chambers has 46 female members, or one woman to every 2.5 men. St Philips has 38 female tenants, a 1:2.6 ratio, and Exchange Chambers has 31 female tenants, a 1:1.8 ratio.

At the other end of the scale is 20 Essex Street, which has just five female tenants, all called within the past 15 years.

Neither No5 or St Philips had any female silks, along with sets including Fountain Court Chambers, Wilberforce Chambers, 3 Verulam Buildings, 20 Essex Street and 7 King’s Bench Walk.