08 / 03 / 20
International Women’s Day is celebrated globally and annually. It is a day to acknowledge and promote the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
The legal profession in the UK has historically been a male dominated profession, and it wasn’t until 1919 that women were allowed to be awarded degrees and ultimately enter the legal profession. 2020 marks the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 was established, paving the way for women to become lawyers for the first time. DULS recognises how revolutionary the last 100 years have been for women in the legal profession, and we wanted to celebrate this and International Women’s Day with a brand-new event: Women in Law.
This event involved a panel of speakers across different areas of the legal profession, to give students an insight into the path they have taken, and what this was like as a woman. Our speakers were Dorothy Bain from the Faculty of Advocates, Caroline Kelly, a Partner at Thornton’s Law LLP, Professor Alice Belcher, who teaches Corporate Governance and Employment Law at Dundee University and Elizabeth McGillivray, the owner of Bowmans Solicitors. Each of the speakers told their story as a woman in law and recalled any experiences of sexism in their careers.
It became clear that these four women had overcome a number of obstacles, ranging from a gender pay gap to raising children with little support from employers. Hearing about their stories exposed the sexism that many women still face in the legal profession today, but also celebrated the progress that has already been made.
This event allowed us all to celebrate Women in Law and recognise the sexism and struggles many women have faced in this industry. Although there has been a significant shift in the attitudes towards women and society’s thoughts about equality, gender parity isn’t there yet. Women are still not paid equally to their male counterparts and senior positions in firms are mostly dominated by males. There has also been an increase in the number of women leaving the legal profession for reasons such as childcare.
This is why we celebrate International Women’s Day. To praise the excellent improvements that have already been made, but also appreciate that there are still significant steps to be taken to achieve gender parity.
Thank you to those who attended our Women in Law Event, and to our guest speakers who took the time to talk with us about their careers. DULS hopes to continue this event in the upcoming years to honour International Women’s Day and allow more women in the legal profession to tell their story.