One third of young female lawyers have lost their ambition to reach the top

One in three young female lawyers have lost ambition and interest in progressing to senior management, a new study has found.

The report by The Executive Coaching Consultancy found that 68 per cent of junior female lawyers in private practice do not aspire to a senior role within their firm, and that of those, 40 per cent had lost the ambition to do so.

The report also found that 88 per cent of young women working in law firms think being a mother is a hindrance to a career. Only 5 per cent believe being a father is a hindrance. Some 60 per cent of young women in law firms think colleagues will assume they are less serious about their career if they have a young child.

Compared to bankers, women in law are less commited to their firms, and more likely than their peers in banking to rule themselves out of progression to senior roles early on, the report found.

A total of 25 per cent in banking expect to stay with their firm for five years or more, compared to 14 per cent in law. Meanwhile, only 32 per cent of women in law say they want a job in senior management or to achieve partnership, compared to 63 per cent in the banking sector.

A lack of female role models was also cited as a problem within firms, with only 23 per cent of junior women feeling that all or many of the senior women in their firm are good role models.

Geraldine Gallacher, the MD of the Executive Coaching Consultancy, said: “The findings show that when it comes to career and being a parent, managers in organisations continue to either ask the impossible or simply sideline them, failing to give the opportunity to focus and do well in one area, which might keep their career on track. This is hard to do in an ‘up or out culture’ where expectations to be good at everything are high. There’s an urgent need for more relatable role models to inspire future talent. Showcasing superwomen puts them off. 

“Organisations need to start embracing the different style of leadership women can bring. Our research shows female leaders are seen as more inspiring, collaborative, empathetic, nurturing and motivated than their male counterparts – it’s this inclusive, open, inspiring and compassionate style of leadership that women admire and want to see. These qualities have the potential to create a leadership style that better meets the needs of our workforce today and create the diversity needed at the top.”