Public still assume lawyers are male, research reveals

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International Women’s Day: Just a quarter of women feel represented in profession

The general public still automatically assume a lawyer will be male, according to new research released today on International Women’s Day.

One in four (25%) surveyed said they pictured a lawyer to be male, while a whopping 48% automatically thought of someone white. Focusing on male respondents only, 4% surveyed said they pictured someone working in the legal industry to be female, and almost half (42%) said they visualised someone in the industry to be male.

The research — undertaken by agency TLF on behalf of The University of Law (ULaw) — also found that over a quarter (28%) of the 2,000 respondents would expect a lawyer to wear natural or very little makeup, compared to 8% who said they expected them to have a full face of make-up.

Just a quarter of female respondents said they feel fully represented in the legal profession, with one in ten revealing they do not feel represented at all. Just 6% expected a lawyer to be from a working-class background.

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Patrick Johnson, the newly-installed director of equality, diversity & inclusion at ULaw, commented:

“This research has highlighted British people’s perceptions of those working in the legal industry, however, this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’, so we wanted to challenge these perceptions and encourage others to do the same.”

Johnson continued: “We want to demonstrate that a career in the legal industry is open to anyone, no matter their background. Whilst there’s always room for progress and improvement in the industry, looking at our current students provides a promising picture for the future of our profession. Amongst our current cohort, 77% of undergraduate and 67% of our postgraduate students are female.”

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