Women have been essential in shaping history throughout human history. The place of women in society and the jobs they hold speaks to how the country as a whole is progressing. However, it is ironic and terrible that a large section of society, in general, does not value women's contributions even today. Women struggle to balance work and life because of their commitments to their families. Indian women still have a long way to go in terms of culture, society, and the economy even though more of them are now working outside the home.
It is a common notion that discrimination against working women begins with the recruiting process. Except for a few specific professions like teaching, nursing, and office work, the majority of males in Indian society do not agree that women may coexist with men in all occupations. Due to undervaluation, women typically choose low-demand jobs, even those with highly specialized talents. Women have a responsibility to manage their many responsibilities, both at home and at work, properly. Whether they are shaping themselves or practicing law, the legal profession regularly presents individuals with a variety of difficulties.1
Challenges Faced By Female Advocates
It can be harder for women to network and socialise in the legal industry because the clientele is nearly exclusively made up of men. In some cases, working with women makes even the clients uncomfortable. In other instances, clients specifically select female lawyers because they believe they would be paid less than their male counterparts. The reputation and income of women are undoubtedly impacted by this. Not surprisingly, women lawyers have to fight hard for their rightful fees, which their male counterparts simply command.
The existence of a rigidly scheduled 9 to 5 schedule makes it difficult for women to balance work and personal obligations. Many independent professionals either work from home or convert a part of their residence into an office. Some have hired support personnel to maintain their houses, while others have relocated closer to the courthouse or turned their homes into offices. Still, others have life partners who work in the field, making it challenging to balance work and family obligations. Others have had to restrict their practice regions or the courts in which they can represent clients.
Since the majority of female litigators do not receive maternity benefits, there is frequently more financial pressure to start working again. Institutional inflexibilities that exclude support measures that advance equality in employment, pregnancy, maternity leave, and motherhood have a significant negative impact. One responder was forced to leave her job at the start of her fourth trimester of pregnancy due to the lengthy workdays, inadequate or separate elevators, unhygienic restrooms, and poor road conditions. Respondents who were employed by senior or law firms complained about rigid policies and the requirement to be present in the workplace at all times, which caused them to leave their jobs during their pregnancies.
Women lawyers are frequently compared to and graded against their male counterparts, almost as if it were a natural law. Women can be seen participating in court proceedings at lower courts, but as you rise the judicial ladder, their numbers, particularly those of young women, start to decline. There has been a change from 30–40 years ago; there is now an equal representation of men and women in law schools, and in some places, there are more female than male candidates. However, we can see that women lawyers are leaving the profession due to lack of support or because the environment is so inhospitable or vulnerable that they are likely leaving these situations.2
Women must make a clear distinction between their personal and professional lives at some point, whereas males are unconcerned with this option. As an associate, women are faced with decisions like whether to get married or get promoted, where there is a very real option that a woman must make or is expected to make due to social expectations associated with being a woman. A glass ceiling, therefore, means that women encounter an insurmountable obstacle that stops them from rising to higher positions. Women are not promoted above this barrier but can be below it. This common glass ceiling results in unequal treatment of women all throughout the world.
The difference in pay between men and women in the same position is referred to as the gender wage gap. Several facets of the legal sector exhibit the gender wage gap. Despite the fact that more than half of first-year law students are female, there is still a pay gap for women in the field. Despite the fact that women tend to bill more accounts than males, there is still a pay gap. Women lawyers frequently receive lower fees than males do. Equity partners' gender pay disparity has widened. Even if they reach this highest position, female equity partners are still paid less than their male counterparts.
Any major change will need to come from a multifaceted approach, starting with hiring decisions and continuing through each step of the workplace culture, as this gap is a chronic issue in the legal sector. The introduction of new delivery models and a replacement of the outdated model may help accelerate this transformation as investors and other stakeholders are increasingly turning to new technology to solve their legal demands. Larger legal corporations may also demand diversity in order to help solve this issue. Legal organisations that place the value of gender equality at their centre may be able to influence this transformation.3
Comparative Analysis Among Countries Regarding Equal Pay
One of the most fundamental things that humans have aspired for in a decent standard of living is equality in work and income. While every employee has the right to work and a paycheck, things become difficult when society has excessively low pay standards. The payment of unequal compensation for the same labour in a certain industry is the issue that occurs most frequently. Women have endured patriarchy and gender inequality for a very long time. However, as a result of the recent globalisation, women from various social levels have attempted to overcome all obstacles to enter the workforce. But despite their talent and worth, many women have experienced discrimination in the workplace, whether it be in the form of being passed over for promotions or receiving lower pay for work that is similar to that of men.
The gender pay gap is not just present in India; it also exists in Developed states. The World Economic Forum released research in 2018 stating that it will take 202 years to close the gender pay gap. Around the world, women are paid 63% less than men. The largest pay discrepancies were found in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, and the UK ranked 50th out of 149 nations in terms of the gender pay gap.
Iceland has also had a similar comparison. The role and significance of women in Icelandic society were highlighted on October 24, 1975, when working, parenting, and housewives left their homes and workplaces. It has been said that the event marked a turning point for Iceland, which is currently regarded as one of the most gender-equal nations in the world. The United Nations has declared 1975 to be the International Year of Women.4 The World Plan of Action for the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Women's Year was adopted during the World Conference that same year. The first Gender Equality Act, which forbade gender-based discrimination, was enacted in reaction to the strike in 1976. The occasion is also recognised as opening the door for the election of Iceland's first female president, Vidgs Finnbogadóttir, who made history by being the first woman to be democratically elected as head of state in 1980.
In India, where the gender proportion is nearly equivalent, men earn 82 percent of the work pay while women get only 18 percent of it, as per the World Inequality Report 2022.5 However, a significant number of businesses are proactively addressing the gender wage gap even as CEOs and company boards make significant efforts to hire more women.
The Apex Court and the Parliament should both take into account the concerns regarding the working environment and social security of female attorneys. In today's India, where we talk about "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao," we also need to recognise that it becomes vital for us to establish a secure and safe environment for women to succeed in the noble profession.
 Siddhima. (2022, January 2). Challenges Faced By Women Lawyers In India - Jus Corpus. Jus Corpus Law Journal. https://www.juscorpus.com/challenges-faced-by-women-lawyers-in-india/
 K.V, S. (2016, July 22). Gender Discrimination In The Legal Profession. iPleaders. https://blog.ipleaders.in/gender-discrimination-legal-profession
 Monahan, A. (2019, April 5). The Gender Wage Gap in the Legal Profession. LiveAbout. https://www.liveabout.com/understanding-the-gender-wage-gap-in-the-legal-profession-400062
 Hofverberg, E. (2022, March 8). Kvennafridagurinn – The Day Icelandic Women Went on Strike. Library of Congress. https://blogs.loc.gov/law/2022/03/kvennafridagurinn-the-day-icelandic-women-went-on-strike/