The Law Society found that from the age of 36, women are paid a lower salary, on average £18,000 less, than men of the same age. Male solicitors find themselves comfortably surpassing a salary of £65,000, while female solicitors are more commonly earning around or below this level.
At the early stages of their careers there is little difference between male and female solicitor earnings, with the biggest pay gap appearing for those between 16 and 20 year experience. After 20 years the pay gap begins to narrow again.
The Law Society research does not explain why women earn less than men in the law industry. However, the findings show that women tend to remain associates or assistants rather than be promoted to a partner level, where their salary would increase. Challenging the belief that women earn less due to career breaks taken to have children, the report shows that women earn less regardless of whether or not they have children.
Janet Hood, convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s equality and diversity committee said: “There are many – and nuanced – reasons as to why the gender pay gap exists. The findings suggest there is very little direct discrimination of women being paid less for directly equivalent roles and experience. There appears though to be an issue around assumptions made about women, with our research indicating that women earn less than their male counterparts whether or not they have children.
“The society’s equality standards, introduced earlier this year, focus on areas where we have seen little progress over the last decade. We would strongly encourage firms to implement these standards as early as possible – those who adopt early will be well prepared when these voluntary requirements become more formal. We would also encourage all in the sector to use our Equal Pay Audit Toolkit.”
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