International Women’s Day 2021
On 8 March every year, around the World, we reflect on what has been achieved in terms of gender equality, raise awareness against bias and lobby for greater rights. This is International Women’s Day. Jessica Few, Trainee Solicitor, discusses the importance of International Women’s Day and what it is like to be a woman in the legal industry.
The first recorded International Women’s Day was in 1911 and since then, women have come so far; in 1920 the Sex Discrimination Removal Act allowed women access to the legal profession and in 1975, just 46 years ago, the same legislation made it illegal to discriminate against women in work, education and training.
When I think that women have only had access to the legal profession for just over 100 years, I feel proud to work for a law firm where 22 of our 33 fee-earners are female. This means over 65% of our fee-earners are women, which is above the 48% UK average. This figure doesn’t even include our operations team and secretaries, who are all female too!
As a female trainee this has been an inspiration. My first seat as a trainee with Longmores was within a female only team; a senior solicitor, Kerrie Hall, and a partner, Tracey Dargan. Both Kerrie and Tracey had balance; they were independent, fierce businesswomen who were also fantastic mothers, wives, friends… As a young, aspiring female lawyer you are often told of the struggle between having a family and being a successful lawyer. I recall from my undergraduate degree our class was told to “forget having a life” if we really wanted to succeed. This may be true, to some extent, depending on the area of law you choose to qualify into, but witnessing first-hand that this can be achieved, that you do not need to choose between a family life and a career, was eye opening and refreshing. How fantastic that as a trainee, an aspiring female lawyer, I had such great role models that I worked so closely with on a daily basis.
However, International Women’s Day is not just about women; it is about demanding and highlighting equality between all sexes. Now, a welcoming 81% of people in the UK disagree that men who stay home to look after their children are any less of a man, according to the International Women’s Day Annual Study 2019. International Women’s Day is about tearing down gender stereotypes across the board. During my first week as a trainee, I witnessed first-hand the impact of disregarding stereotypes when, during a hearing for an application regarding child arrangements, the Father was held to be the primary carer of the couple’s children. This decision was made on what was right for the children in the circumstances, with a complete disregard to any perceived gender stereotypes.
International Women’s Day is about celebrating how much closer we are to equality as well as highlighting where we might still fall short. However, most importantly, it emphasises the importance of equal opportunities and togetherness.
Please note the contents of this article are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.