Themis, launched in September 2020, is an alliance representing the rights and interests of all self-identifying women at the Bar. While there are many organisations aimed at representing female barristers, Themis seeks to promote intersectionality; we recognise that women are not only affected by their gender, but that other factors impact their life as barristers. Through the lens of intersectionality, we will work with other organisations to shine light on women’s multifaceted experience.

Our aim is to give self-identifying women at the Bar a voice. As a single organisation, we recognise that we cannot possibly represent the intricacies and multitudes of all their experience – nor would we want to assume we could. We hope to collaborate with other associations so that the issues faced by women at the Bar can fully and properly be tackled.

What is intersectionality?

Women’s experiences at the Bar, whether at a disadvantage or not at parity with men’s experiences, is often explained by their gender. However, intersectionality – a term coined by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw – recognises that gender is only one element; other elements such as race, culture, ethnicity, class, sexuality, religion and disability all intertwine with gender to create a woman’s experience. Looking at gender in isolation will not encapsulate all women and will not tackle the issues faced by them.

Intersectionality is often described as a lens or prism, which identifies these multiple overlapping factors that, in combination, create various manners in which a woman experiences life and is treated. Themis, therefore, follows in the footsteps of Professor Crenshaw and strives to provide recognition of women barristers’ different experiences through the prism of intersectionality and to confront these issues.

Current issues Themis is tackling

Our aim is to be an inclusive organisation promoting all self-identifying women at the Bar. In order to do this, there are still many hurdles to tackle, but we hope that by working with other organisations we can make a positive change and foster a new culture of recognition of intersectionality at the Bar.

By way of example, we have recently worked with Neurodiversity in Law to host an event about neurodiversity at the Bar. Some amazing women spoke at the event and we are grateful for their wise words. Moving forwards, Themis aims to host an ‘Intersectionality Series’, focusing on different aspects of the Bar that affect women. For example, we are currently looking at the gender pay gap and retention. Below is a brief summary of the issues identified and projects to tackle these.

Gender pay gap

In November 2019, the Bar Council analysed Bar Mutual data which showed ‘shocking discrepancies in pay between women and men barristers’. In all areas except family law, men’s earnings, calculated by percentage, far outpaced women’s earnings. Shockingly, in many areas of practice, over 80% of earnings were by men.

This raises many issues, not least the fair allocation of work. Chambers have to allocate all work that comes in fairly. However, this does not prevent a) men obtaining more named work and b) more men than women being recommended for work. Fair allocation often only applies to unnamed work. However, if only male members of chambers have been recommended for that piece of work, it stands to reason that the solicitor will select a male barrister. Similarly, if social events are organised so that women with care or other responsibilities cannot attend, solicitors will form better relationships with those who can attend.

This report highlights one of the many issues, and fallacies, at the Bar. Fairness is not equality, and equality alone is not enough – equity is. Clearly, women do not earn the same as men at the Bar. Intrinsic in this are a multitude of obstacles faced by women at the Bar. This report, in stark numerical form, highlights why organisations are necessary to champion women’s rights at the Bar.

During Themis’ launch event, Aswini Weereratne QC made a number of observations about changes required to minimise the earnings gap at the Bar and equalise the opportunities for progression for men and women. Themis is, at present, putting together a project to examine earnings at the Bar. We are researching the equal pay landscape at the Bar to identify what work has already been done, what work is currently being done that overlaps with Themis’ own, and setting up partnerships where possible to carry out work together. The goal is to produce a research report identifying the key issues and recommending solutions.

Retention of women at the Bar and mentoring

Unfortunately increasing numbers of self-employed female barristers, especially those working in publicly funded criminal and family law, are leaving the Bar earlier – unlike their male-counterparts. Leaving the Bar mid-career has a knock-on effect on the number of women in the judiciary and appointed QC.

Themis recognises that mentoring schemes are often aimed at students and aspiring barristers, but fewer schemes provide support for women already in practice. This is why we launched a mentoring scheme in collaboration with Doughty Street Chambers for both women coming into the Bar and those already in practice.

The mentoring scheme, launched in March, takes two formats: a one-to-one mentor-mentee format and a law chain whereby women at different stages of their career will be put into a group of four so that each can benefit from being a mentor and mentee. Our aim is to support career progression as well as the balancing of work and personal life without affecting women’s ability to practise. We want to build and foster a community of support, belonging and change; for women within the profession to guide and aid other women. If more women, together with our male allies, stand up for each other, for example when extended court sitting hours are discussed, women are likely to feel better able to stay at the Bar.

Themis is seeking mentors on an ongoing basis, so please sign up at

Concluding remarks

We are proud to champion women at the Bar and raise the voices of all self-identifying women. Themis, named after the Greek Titaness of justice, aims to promote true equality in the judicial system. We aim to be a hub of inclusivity.

Themis is keen to work with different organisations and women who want to champion others and further our aim of bettering women’s intersectional experience at the Bar. To that end, please contact us at if you would like to work with us to promote any aspect affecting women at the Bar.