The article "Equal In Law? The Case of The Female Lawyer", provides in insight into the issues that have arisen in respect to equal opportunities. It also enables an overview of the law associated and how these are put into practice. A number of problems for females practising in law are evident from the article and I have structured my analysis by discussing the problems, with the appropriate legal issues followed by a conclusion of implications that this area of law could have for the company or its clients and recommendations.
A fundamental problem highlighted in the article is that throughout the years, women have been discovering great difficulties entering a career in law. This is mainly due to the fact that although there are laws protecting the rights of women, they are not sufficient. There is also, a lack of enforcement, negative attitudes towards these laws and attitudes towards female lawyers and barristers in general. Historical context of discrimination Initially women had little or no laws protecting them at work, as it was not socially expected for a woman to work.
Over the decades there has been a dramatic change in social attitude, which has resulted in laws being enforced. The main change mentioned in the article was the enactment of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. This enabled women to enter many professions, which previously condemned them. As a result of this, the first female solicitor and barrister was admitted as beforehand it was considered illegal for a female to enter the legal profession.
Progress of female entrants however was slow and the article points out that "the 70's saw the first significant rise in women entrants". In 1923 the Association of Women Solicitors was formed and together with organisations such as the Association of Women Barristers they focus on many issues that have risen in the past due to discrimination. Despite the concentration for Associations on issues of sex discrimination and laws being formed, there are still great difficulties in respect to the attitudes towards women.
The article in General is extremely critical of the law, highlighting that although times have changed and laws have been enforced to protect women from prejudice, there still is a great barrier for women in the legal profession, as it continues to be a male dominated world. In theory certain laws are available, however in practice they are not being taken seriously. It also mentions that although females are "attaining more firsts and upper seconds than their male counterparts," and more women are entering the profession they are also leaving the profession very quickly due to the problems of sex discrimination.
The main problems of discrimination reported in the article are that although are women better qualified, they do not move as quickly as males, as there is a "glass roof" on their career, which blocks their progress. Despite the higher qualifications, female trainees are paid less and this is supported by figures from the "Annual Statistical Survey for 1998", which state that on average earnings are 4. 4 per cent lower. This image of women earning less in their profession is reinforced when we look at the general picture.
The EOC state that "despite more than 20 years of equal pay legislation, women on average still earn less than men" and that "Women working full-time earn 80 per cent of the hourly earnings of male full-timers". According to Winyard in "Poverty Wages" p. 1, "Nationally one and a half of all full-time women are low paid" and Tess Hill and Larry Whitty say that "The gap between male and female earnings in Britain is larger than in most other West European countries".
Tess Hill and Larry Whitty also criticise the equal pay act by pointing out "none of the equal pay definitions touches women's access to men's jobs". There is also great difficulty in that women are given the responsibility of childcare, although there are inadequate organisational arrangements, which could be in the form of home working, job sharing flexi-time or a corporate deal with a childcare agency. There is also a lack of choice within their profession and evidence of constant oppression.