WOMEN are inching closer towards equality among the ranks of law firm junior partners but are still glaringly absent in senior roles, BRW magazine reports.
Women account for up to 42 per cent of those employed in law firms in junior partnership roles, which are held for four years, according to a BRW survey of 11 law firms published yesterday (24 August).
Law firms Henry Davis York and Gilbert + Tobin were at the top of the table with Sparke Helmore taking the eleventh and bottom place, with only 25 per cent of its junior partners being female.
At Middletons and Piper Alderman, who made no new female partner appointments this fiscal year, females account for 6 per cent and 11 per cent respectively of partners employed, BRW reports.
Helen McKenzie, the deputy managing partner at Blake Dawson, which ranked number five in the tables, told BRW law firms have become more accommodating of women’s needs such as childcare by developing flexible work policies in the last decade.
"It’s challenging [to have a family and be a partner] but not necessarily any more so than balancing any challenging career. As a profession, we are very lucky in that we earn enough money to afford child care, and as workers, female lawyers are privileged,” said McKenzie.
A report into the impact of the economic downturn by the Australia Institute, released yesterday, found women make up nearly 80 per cent of Australia's hidden unemployed, with childcare responsibilities cited as the most likely reason preventing women from re-entering the workforce.
“Not only does this report again make it clear that there are significant barriers to women’s full and equal participation in the paid workforce, but it says the Government’s stimulus package will do little to improve women’s employment outcomes,” Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, said in a statement yesterday.
Broderick called for more effort to be applied to developing affordable child care and flexible work arrangements to improve the way Australia utilises female talent.