Gender pay remains a “stubbornly difficult” problem across the legal profession and the attrition rate of females in the law is still “shocking”, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission claims.
The equal opportunity body has launched a new project to look into the experiences of women working in the law across Victoria.
The project was launched in time to mark International Women’s Day 2012 late last week.
Acting Commissioner Karen Toohey said the Commission is responding to a clear need for more information that details how far the legal profession has come in tackling sex discrimination.
"Previous studies in Victoria have found that attrition rates from the legal profession are higher for women than men and that career pathways within legal practices differ by gender.
"With more women graduating from law and entering the legal profession each year the Commission wants to understand how the sector is responding to changes in the gender balance and what can be done to improve retention rates and career outcomes," Toohey said.
Toohey said the Commission has been told the “gender pay gap remains a stubbornly difficult problem across the sector".
Law Institute of Victoria President Michael Holcroftsaid that he commends the Commission’s Women in the Law project as a valuable initiative.
"We know that we have a shocking rate of attrition of females in the legal profession and any feedback that we can get to identify the reasons for this are to be welcomed," he said.
"The study should also assist in raising awareness in relation to harassment in the legal profession workplace, and lead to a better understanding of the responsibilities of both employers and employees."
The Women in the Law research will build on the Commission’s previous projects on sex discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination in the workplace and young women’s rights at work, and the development of sexual harassment guidelines under the Equal Opportunity Act due for release later this year.
The Commission will report its findings in mid-2012, including examples of good practice and recommendations for action.