Nearly half of all female barristers have experienced sexist bullying in their job

Over two thirds considered leaving the Bar because of it


Action must be taken to combat widespread discrimination and sexual harassment of young female barristers, says new information released by the Bar Standards Board.  The damning report was commissioned following widespread claims of sexual discrimination or harassment – and over 40 per cent of women barristers claim to have experienced bullying at the Bar.

However only 20 per cent of cases have been reported due to concerns about the impact on their careers and prevailing attitudes in the profession.

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Despite new and recent initiatives such as new equality rules, the report from the ‘Bar Standards Board’, the barristers’ regulator, has been the latest to confirm that prejudice is still commonplace. In fact the rates of bullying and prejudice have not improved in the past 15 years, so much so that over two thirds of those who reported discrimination have considered leaving the Bar over it.

Based on the responses of 1333 practising female barristers, the report shows that women can face sexist treatment in several ways, including harassment, discrimination, work allocation, flexible working and those returning from maternity leave.

Last year the bar council found that while there was an approximately 50-50 gender balance when Law graduates are first called to the bar, an equal split among all barristers is unlikely to ever be achieved.

Dr Vanessa Davies, the Bar Standards Board director general, said of the findings: “We cannot tolerate a situation where women are treated unfairly in the workplace. Lack of diversity and discriminatory working culture and practices impair the Bar’s ability to meet the needs of the public and could deter potentially great candidates from pursuing a career at the Bar.”