Day: October 30, 2014

Gender and the Legal Profession (Throwback Thursday)

Posted on

By Melanie Hodges Neufeld

In 1991, a study of gender and the legal profession in Saskatchewan was released. In 2012, a follow-up report by Beth Bilson, Susan Robertson and Elizabeth Quinlan entitled “Women and the Legal Profession in Saskatchewan: National and Historical Comparisons” was conducted to “identify changes in the past 20 years for Saskatchewan’s female lawyers”. Here is a list of the gender-relevant features of Saskatchewan’s legal profession identified in the study that have changed over the last two decades and features that have persisted:

Changes:

  • A decline in the topical salience of gender within Saskatchewan’s legal community was one of the more remarkable changes observed between 1991 and 2012. However, findings in the survey do indicate that gender still regulates the experiences and perceptions of a significant portion of members of Saskatchewan’s legal community.
  • An increasing presence of women with extended experience in the profession add to the complexity of issues of gender in practice.
  • An overall decline in the number of rural practitioners in Saskatchewan and some indication of increased interest in specializations as opposed to general practice.
  • Men In SK exhibit somewhat more mobility within legal practice than women, but both men and women are more mobile than in the past and their reasons for moving are very similar.
  • Women are more visible in participation in formal organizational capacities but social participation remains limited.

Similarities:

  • Practice locations outside of the private sector continue to be regarded as more amenable to achieving work-life balance, and a greater proportion of women are in the public sector compared to men. These public sector locations are not immune to gendered divisions.
  • Women continue to be overrepresented among leavers.
  • Time away from practice for maternity/parental and other caregiving responsibilities continues to operate as an impediment to career success.
  • Despite the concerns, experiences, and observations reported by female lawyers in Saskatchewan, they continue to be satisfied with their careers in law. Overall, women’s level of satisfaction with various aspects of their legal career was positive and remarkably similar across the two decades.