The “Leaky Pipeline”
As Ada Lovelace day is celebrated across not only the STEM industries but by women and men alike worldwide with #ILookLikeAnEngineer trending globally, a common topic among our client base raises its head once more – where do all the female lawyers go?
Currently there are so many campaigns to encourage women to push back on imposter syndrome and unconcious bias, to encourage women to follow the careers they are building for themselves all the way to the top. The issues involving gender and career progression have been commented on for decades. However, as seen within the legal profession, genuine efforts aimed at addressing the issue have been made but have led largely to frustration and confusion rather than progress.
“Get more people (men or women) doing more of the doing (and less of the talking). There’s a lot of support that’s being given to this initiative right now, which I’m thankful for. Let’s not let these efforts slide!” says Gen Ashley, Director, Women Who Code London
I recently came across a blog post from legal recruiters Cogence Search, written by Anouska Tamony, Manisha Vegad and Naomi Barnes. The title statement from a senior Female Partner stood out to me as something that I hear time and time again - “I suspect I’d be hung, drawn and quartered if such a comment were attributed to me!”. So, as films like Suffragette hit our screens, have we really made those next steps towards a more equal workplace? Anouska says
“With roughly equal male and female entry into the legal profession, the percentage of females dwindles at all levels all the way up to equity partnership – the “Leaky Pipeline”. We conducted a detailed survey which went out to over 12,000 London lawyers. The responses provided help to explain why there are more male partners than female partners.
The belief that a barrier exists can operate as a barrier in itself. While there are a host of initiatives aimed at supporting women in the profession, including the 30% Club; marketing and networking initiatives exclusively for women; awards dedicated to women, enhanced maternity leave packages; and firm mentoring initiatives, etc., the belief that gender operates as a barrier to progression still persists and may discourage some from seeking advancement.”
The full survey and results can be accessed here but here are some of the Key Statistics:
- 80% of female respondents and 56% of male respondents said that there are not enough female role models in the legal profession
- 72% of men feel that their workplace does enough to support equality compared with 32% of women
- 60% of men probably or definitely view the profession as a meritocracy compared to only 30% of women
- 78% of female associates believe there are gender specific barriers to progression yet only 30% of male partners agreed this to be true
- 45% of men and a mere 10% of women think quotas are definitely a good way to solve the problem.
At Iken we are lucky enough to have our COO and Director, Tanya Corsie representing at the South West branch of The Glass Lift open access programme where members are women with the talent and desire to lead. Members learn with other members from client organisations in the public, private and third sectors.
This has certainly helped us to achieve a good female representation across most areas of the business but do, like many software houses, struggle with interest in areas like Technical Engineering and Software Development. As initiatives like Girls In Tech UK, Women Who Code and Geek Girl Meetup gain traction we are seeing more interest and uptake in developing these skills and will no doubt be seeing more women in these areas in the near future.
So what do you think? Do the Cogence Search survey results match what you would assume? We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions… and if you get a chance do check out the Ada Lovelace exhibit I am sure you will find it as inspirational as I did.