04 May 2018

Sang-froid towards liberté, égalité and fraternité from France's women lawyers

New survey from public Defender of Rights and young lawyers' union in France reveals discrimination in the French legal profession.

Over half the women in the French legal profession reports having been discriminated against in the last five years, according to a new survey. Results show 53 per cent of women surveyed, compared to 21 per cent of men, reported having been discriminated against in the last five years, higher than in other professions. 

Gender, age and motherhood

Data reveals that women lawyers report that their work or skills are unrecognized and downgraded. The main areas of discrimination are gender, age and motherhood, and discrimination is particularly prevalent for women in their thirties, with 63.8 per cent of women in this age range reporting problems. On grounds of gender, 39.3 per cent report being confronted with unfavorable treatment. On motherhood grounds, 19.7 percent believed maternity practices discriminate against them in their work. Being a woman increases by 40 percent the probability of receiving an annual income lower than 17,500 euros, the lowest bracket. While being a woman reduces the probability of being in the highest bracket by 60 percent, that is over 152,041 euros.

Men behaving defensively
Public defender Jacques Toubon said, "It is surprising that in a highly-feminized profession, there are situations of discrimination as this important study shows. But the feminization of a socially valued profession is accompanied by defensive responses from men." The survey, conducted by the public Defender of Rights and the National Federation of Young Lawyers Unions (FNUJA), studied the working conditions and experiences of discrimination in the legal profession in France, and was presented by Jacques Toubon, Defender of Rights. The online survey was conducted online with a sample of 44,458 lawyers and collected 7,138 responses.

The survey can be found here (in French)