International Arbitrator, Counsel, Consultant

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Change within our grasp in international arbitration

As many of you will know, I was honoured to deliver the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’ lecture on the occasion of International Women’s Day last week. My full lecture will be published in due course but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to write a short blog piece about my experience in preparing and delivering my speech.

In preparing my speech I began looking at the fairly depressing statistics on the lack of women in the senior ranks of our profession. I sought to identify the reasons why women leave the profession and concluded that, as I have said for many years, it is not the practical obstacles that trip women up, it is the much more insidious bias that exists against promoting women to senior positions. What we must remember is that we are all subject to this bias, and, even more importantly, we don’t know we have it.

When I completed my speech preparation, I wasn’t depressed at all. I was energised about the real change that I believe is around the corner.

All day during International Women’s Day I felt an atmosphere of celebration and change. The First 100 years project had invited all women lawyers to be photographed for their archives, so my dear friend Marion Smith QC and I went to the Law Society in the afternoon to take part. I have never seen such a diverse throng of female lawyers and it was truly inspiring to be part of the event. Then it was on to Pinsent Masons to deliver my speech.

Delivering the speech was an absolute pleasure. The audience were diverse in terms of gender, age, ethnicity and attitude. The questions were insightful and engaging. Afterwards there was a terrific party atmosphere. Change is within our grasp.

Thank you to everyone for your support.