Equality and Diversity

Equality and Diversity in the Legal Profession

(1) Feminist Judgments Project

Feminist Judgments Project
Feminist Judgments Project

Clare McGlynn co-led the ESRC funded Feminist Judgments Project (with Erika Rackley and Rosemary Hunter). This project demonstrates how feminist perspectives could result in different legal judgments in a number of significant English legal cases.

More than 60 feminist socio-legal scholars, activists and members of the legal profession worked together to produce alternative written judgments of 23 English legal cases. Although each author wrote their judgment under the same legal framework as the original case, the outcomes were often very different. Clare McGlynn and her co-editors Rosemary Hunter and Erika Rackley compiled the judgments from the project into a book, Feminist Judgments: From theory to practice, which was published in 2010. McGlynn’s own feminist judgment challenges the House of Lords decision R v A (No 2), which reduced protections for women giving evidence in rape trials. The judgment is extracted in The Guardian.

The Feminist Judgments Project has had considerable influence both within the legal profession and across wider society. Supreme Court Justice Baroness Brenda Hale cited the Project during her oral evidence to the House of Lords Consultation Committee enquiry into the Judicial Appointments Process, using it as an example of the positive role that greater diversity could have upon judicial decisions. The Feminist Judgments Project has garnered considerable media attention, including articles in the Law Society Gazette, The Lawyer and the Times Higher Education.

The Feminist Judgments Project has led to the establishment of a number of other feminist judgment projects including the Australian Feminist Judgments Project and the Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project (co-led by fellow Durham Law School colleague Aoife O’Donoghue).

(2) Women in the Legal Profession 

The Woman Lawyer

Clare McGlynn’s first book The Woman Lawyer: Making the difference was published in 1998. As the first book-ledo women get a fair chancength study on the representation of women in the UK legal profession, it became a key reference point in debates surrounding diversity in legal contexts. In the book, Clare McGlynn chronicles women’s experiences throughout the legal profession, from law school to the judiciary. She combines her own empirical research and statistics with personal testimonies from women legal academics, lawyers and judges. These personal testimonies include contributions from Baroness Helena Kennedy, and Baroness Brenda Hale, who is currently the only woman on the Supreme Court. Clare’s overarching theme is the need for reform within the legal profession; to introduce greater diversity and to challenge a culture in which women’s abilities and achievements are marginalised.

In her role as the vice-chairwomanFailing to pass of the Young Women Lawyers Group in the 1990s, Clare McGlynn commented on equal opportunities for women lawyers in The Law Society Gazette, The Lawyer, and The Independent.

Women legal academics

In the late 1990s, Clare McGlynn carried out the first survey into the representation of women legal academics. Whilst it had already been established that women academics in various departments faced financial disadvantage and indirect discrimination, the representation of women academics in law schools remained unknown. The survey found that only 14% of law professors were women, and only 2 in 5 law schools had any women professors at all. In her paper about the findings, Clare discusses the impact of this under-representation of women upon the education of law students.


Women and Change in Higher Education: culture and careers (1-2 April 2014)

At a time when women in higher education outnumber men, the number of women in leadership positions remains low.  Although women hold almost half (47.3%) of
non-professorial academic posts, just 20.5% of professors are women and only
14% of the UK’s vice-chancellors are women.
Open to academic and professional services staff, and those interested in women’s progression and equality, the conference served as an opportunity to:

  • explore the latest policy, information and research relating to women’s participation,
  • discuss strategic, practical and sustainable ways of supporting and developing women working in higher education,
  • consider the challenges and opportunities faced by women in higher education,
  • consider how we might change culture in Higher Education.

Feminist Judgments project cited as ‘best practice’ in major equality report (May 2013)

The Feminist Judgments Project has been cited as an example of good practice in promoting the equality of women by the UK’s working group report on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. The report also praises the Equal Justices Initiative of which both McGlynn and Rackley are members. It concludes that both these projects should be ‘supported and emulated’.

Clare McGlynn speaks at feminist judgments seminar at Norton Rose (October 2011)

Professor Clare McGlynn was one of four members of the feminist judgments project who spoke at a seminar event at Norton Rose on Thursday 13 October. The event coincided with the recent launch of Norton Rose’s women’s legal network. Baroness Hale also spoke at the event. The event also sparked a more tangential debate about the exclusion of women from membership at the Garrrick Club. Baroness Hale’s comment that ‘I regard it as quite shocking that so many of my colleagues belong to the Garrick Club, but they don’t see what all the fuss is about’ was widely discussed in the national and international press including in The Times, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Australian.


Feminist Judgments Book Launched and Published (November 2010)

A collection of the feminist judgments, together with commentaries and discussion of the project, has now been published as Feminist Judgments: from theory to practice. The book was launched on 11 November 2010 at Matrix Chambers by Baroness Brenda Hale and was attended by over 80 guests including a number of prominent legal figures (Lord Mance, Baroness Scotland, Mrs Justice Dobbs, Vera Baird QC, Karon Monaghan QC), journalists (Bea Campbell and Maya Wolfe-Robinson), and key third sector organisations (Southall Black Sisters, Rights of Women).

A short article on the project was published in The Guardian see also an abridged version of the feminist judgment in the rape trials case R v A.

You can find out more about the Feminist Judgments Project on the Project’s website.


A Law unto themselves? (The Times Higher Education Supplement, 23 October 1998)

In this article, Clare states that popular culture often equates the law with men and ‘masculine’ attributes. This view is perpetuated by the predominance of male lawyers in senior positions. Stereotypes which suggest that women are less objective or neutral than men can harm women’s prospects in the legal profession, and the lack of women lawyers in higher positions can enforce these perceptions.

Prejudice, Professors and Pride (Times Higher Education Supplement, 12 June 1998)

Responding to an articel that claimed academia was less prejudiced. Clare highlights evidence relating to discrimination on the grounds of gender, race and sexual orientation, which reveals the uncomfortable fact that although one might consider that the academic world is immune from prejudice and discrimination, nothing could be further from the truth.

9.2% of professors are women (The Times Higher Education Supplement, 28 May 1999)

On the finding that 9.2% of professors are women, Clare McGlynn comments:

Things are not going to change by osmosis. We need a change in the culture that translates to women getting the promotions they deserve. They can no longer be seen as handmaidens facilitating the work of serious scholars who happen to be men.

The time out — women solicitors talk about getting back to work after taking a career break (The Law Society Gazette, 17 April 1996 )

In article article on woman taking career breaks, Clare McGlynn comments that ‘it may be counter-productive to argue for special arrangements for women with children. Such an approach merely perdo women get a fair chancepetuates the belief that childcare is solely the responsibility of the woman in a relationship’.

Sexual inequalities still prevalent in profession (The Lawyer, 29 April 1997)

Do women get a fair chance? (The Independent, 13 March 1996)
A survey in 1996 found that female solicitors were pessimistic about their career prospects.

Quick Reads

Research Briefings provide a concise and easy to read introduction to Clare’s research.

This Research Briefing highlights the work of Gender and Law at Durham (GLAD), an interdisciplinary research group, on Diversity in the Legal Profession and Judiciary. The briefing shows how Clare’s work on diversity in the legal profession continues to shape national debates on the status of women lawyers.

The Research Briefing outlines the Feminist Judgments Project, a dynamic and innovative research project in which a group of feminist socio-legal scholars have written alternative feminist judgments in a series of significant cases in English law. More information about the project is here. The methodolgy used in this project has been extended to similar judgment projects.

More Research Breifings here.

Academic Publications

Authored Books

Edited Books

Book Sections

  • McGlynn, C.M.S. (2002). Strategies for Reforming the English Solicitors’ profession: An Analysis of the Business Case for Sex Equality. In Women in the World’s Legal Professions. Schultz U & Shaw G Hart.

Journal Articles

  • McGlynn, C.M.S. (2000). The Business of Equality in the Solicitors’ Profession. Modern Law Review 63: 442-456.
  • McGlynn, C.M.S. (1999). Women, Representation and the Legal Academy. Legal Studies 19: 68-92.