The Association of Women Lawyers (“AWL”) had, on 26 June 2014, launched the findings of its Baseline Study on the Working Conditions of Male and Female Lawyers in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
The Baseline Study was conducted by AWL in collaboration with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia, “SUHAKAM”) and Women’s Aid Organisation (“WAO”), and was funded by United Nations Population Fund (“UNFPA”), Malaysia. Dr Lai Suat Yan (Chief Consultant) from University Malaya led the research team, which included Dr Nurjanaah Chew Li Hua, Dr Sarina Mohamed, and Dr Kuppusamy Singaravelloo.
The report from the Baseline Study provided a comparative view of the careers and compensation of men and women lawyers, and examined factors that influence career progression, levels of gender bias, salary levels, whether practice areas were affected by gender stereotypes and societal expectations, impact of family obligations or having children, sexual harassment and awareness (or lack thereof) of the Code of Practice on the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and the complaints mechanism adopted by the Bar Council. It revealed that while women start out in about equal numbers to men when they enter law firms as first-year associates, the numbers diminish at different seniority levels. Women lawyers are also severely under-represented at leadership levels.