13,7 % of the Queen’s Counsels are women. Not that bad when compared with 9.7% of women in the British Army Forces. Why do I compare it with the Army? Because these two areas, the Bar and the Army, have very much in common indeed.
Both of them require to fight and combat and a demand to have a specific set of mind and personality to dedicate fully to go through many battles to win.
I am not a lawyer. I am a behaviourist and counselor with almost 20 years of experience. I’ve worked with hundreds of women to help them to go through bumpy, sometimes very thorny, ways of their careers, to train them how to comply with a professional pressure, how to find a balance between motherhood and career development pressure demands.
I have also worked with hundredths of men. With men who want always to win, with men who struggle with a matrix of dominant and controlling fathers/mothers that had not been ever satisfied with whatever their sons have done. With men who have struggled with their wives’ approach to men dedicated to working that much that they have not much time left for their families. Men struggling with their belief that only by working like crazy they are able to show their love and that providing their families with a better standard of life than others can have makes them worthy of being loved.
An interesting conversation is recently taking place within the legal domains with a question about why so few women reach a QC’s status? Why so few women arrive at the top of the Bar’s ladder? And what kind of obstacles cause such a limited number of women in Crime Law achieve a QC position?
There is also a very noticeable thing which appears when looking closer at the discussion, which is that many strong women, already the QCs, want to help those who seem to be struggling with alleged and widely discussed obstacles. Strong voices from several QCs who want to dedicate their knowledge and support to change the gender’s statistic at the Bar are being heard from different sides. They want to help more women to arrive at the top of the Criminal Bar.
However, there are questions that haven’t been asked yet and, in my opinion, should be: does the majority of female lawyers want to become a QC? Do they ask for help? How many of them appeal for support?
The knowledge about differences between the two genders’ approach to the specific life areas has made me never ever choose to say that one gender is better in approaching goals and the other one is worse. I say that their motivations and principles are different. Their judgment of what is important in life is different. It is not about the way in which they reach their goals. It is about what the two genders consider that precious in their lives so to fight for it.
While observing the discussion about women who don’t wear a Silk yet, I haven’t heard a question: how many female lawyers really want to wear a Silk?
Is having a Silk around their shoulders that valuable for them to battle for it? I’m not asking: how many women are able to fight. I’m not putting such a question simply because every single woman can and is able to fight hard, to become a warrior. However, the vast majority of women will fight only when they feel that there is someone or something that needs to be protected. Women don’t battle to gain or to conquer; they fight to protect who or what they do love. Every woman is able to battle if she sees reasons for doing that. If someone says that women are not warriors because of their nature, this makes such a statement become quite misleading as it is only a part of an answer. This is a wider matter due to too many social and psychological factors involved in. However, I would say that women are like lionesses and men are like hawks and please accept my sincere apologies if anyone feels offended by such a comparison.
In February this year, I interviewed Felicity Gerry (this interview is a part of a bigger project and, hopefully, it will be completed next year), and she said:
“We live in the reality where men create a competitive environment and you then have to engage to achieve. What is wrong is that the system requires that sort of warrior’s attitude and women actually are the warriors. Women battle every day.”
This is why observing the discussion, I’m simply asking whether /or rather: how many?/ women want to fight for a Silk and whether they love an idea of becoming a QC that much to decide to combat for it or not?
My next question would be: is a QC’s status quo still that desirable for a younger generation of female lawyers as it was for those who were born, let’s say around 1950-70?
Last month, I asked 10 randomly chosen female barristers in their late thirties if they would like to become a QC. Only two of them said Yes.
I asked 10 men barristers the same question and seven men answered Yes.
A path to the top of the Bar is like a ladder which bars (sic!) are not made of rose petals but of nails with their sharp spikes under your feet. Lawyers are not magicians, in spite of a strong desire of so many of your clients for you to be such…
You are the people who have different motivations, different principles, different sets of life skills and these last ones are not lectured at any law school though… You know very well what kind of ‘heavy-duty’ shoes one needs to get up on this ladder and how to follow ”Legal Health&Safety” rules to avoid painful injuries from sharp spikes (or sharp tongues…)
An assumption that treating others as you want to be treated is a correct one, has a fatal flaw because it assumes that all people want to be treated the same way you want it. It ignores the fact that people are motivated by vastly different things thus treating others as they want to be treated – corrects that flaw.
Therefore, asking female lawyers if they want a Silk seems to counteract with an assumption that ‘the Silk’ wants more women.
Does ‘the Silk’ want more women? If so, what can be done to make more women consider wearing a Silk as worthy as they consider other matters in their lives? Is wearing a Silk about prestige, or about financial status, or about proving that women can do it?
I know, upon my professional and private experience, that no matter of gender, when a person really wants to fight for something, s/he will fight for it. There is no doubt about that. This is all about reasons upon which motivation escalates of.
I also know what it means to succeed for me as a professional. It is being able to go to bed each night with my soul at peace and my mind excited and eager that I will do what I do next day too. Did I have to fight for that? Yeah, I did, I did indeed.