12 of Bar Council’s 13 barrister-led committees now have women at the helm
To mark the theme of #PressForProgress on International Women’s Day, 8 March, we asked them and others what would most improve progress for women in specific practice areas, and across the Bar as a whole. Read what Amanda Pinto QC, Fiona Jackson, Kate Brunner QC and more thought below.
Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the International Committee & practising in corporate crime and fraud
“Change solicitors’ attitudes to instructing barristers of quality, regardless of gender. I took silk in 2006 but it is only now that I am in my first trial with another female QC; bias against all-female (as opposed to all-male) legal teams remains.”
“In international legal relations, change expectations to encourage recognition that the senior person in the room is no longer always male; male colleagues are often greeted first as others expect the leading representative to be a man.”
Fiona Jackson, Chair of Bar Representation Committee, Vice-Chair of Equality & Diversity and Social Mobility Committee & practising in fraud, crime and international regulatory work
“In the fields of domestic and international fraud, regulatory work and asset recovery: more instructions for female barristers in serious cases including in leading roles, with clerks providing equality of opportunity and working hard to promote their female as well as male counsel to counter gender stereotypes and gender bias, enabling women also to progress to elite levels and provide visible role models.”
Athena Markides, Vice-Chair of the Young Barristers’ Committee & practising in insurance, commercial litigation, and property
“Across the Bar - re-training programmes for women returning to the Bar post-maternity leave and/or following a career break, more focus on shared parental leave, mentorship and support programmes to facilitate flexible working, and reinforcement of the idea that you can succeed without needing to act like a man.”
Joanne Wicks QC, Vice-Chair of the Education & Training Committee & practising in property litigation and professional negligence
“Better and more intelligent support from Chambers for women returning from parental leave.”
Dee Masters, Equality & Diversity and Social Mobility Committee’s Retention Panel & practising in employment and discrimination law
“Mothers still tend to be mostly responsible for childcare. Barristers without a stay at home partner need to be able to finance a team of helpers and meet the costs of working whilst also probably turning away work that is incompatible with home life. Fees are a feminist issue. ”
Kate Brunner QC, Equality & Diversity and Social Mobility Committee’s Retention Panel & practising in crime, fraud & regulatory work
“It is not sexist for judges, clerks & colleagues to avoid making things harder for primary carers at the Bar, most of whom happen to be women. Don’t sit late, don’t book last-minute cons at 6pm, don’t start court early, don’t require skeleton arguments overnight, don’t send emails requiring responses at midnight.”
Lucinda Orr, Vice-Chair of the Bar Representation Committee & practising at the employed Bar
“Championing of junior women by both senior men and senior women; trailblazing women spreading success secrets; calling out (& explaining!) misogyny when encountered; and a general attitude shift that progress for women at the Bar is still not "done"”.
Harini Iyengar, Equality & Diversity and Social Mobility Committee’s Retention Panel & practicing in employment, discrimination and equality, education and data protection
“Men barristers accepting that achieving equality for women barristers is a task for them too, listening humbly to women’s experiences at the Bar & sharing the burden of doing unpaid “diversity” work & mentoring.”
Tell us what you think would most improve progress for women across the Bar on Twitter @thebarcouncil or by email SMercer@BarCouncil.org.uk.