Gender diversity at the NSW and Victorian Bars


Last week, a seminar presented by the Victorian Women Barristers Association (WBA) cited the 2020 Victorian Bar Statistics as having women comprising:

• 33% of Victorian barristers;

• 14% of Victorian silks; and

• 34% of the Victorian junior bar.

It is also interesting to note the recent growth of women barristers in Victoria, where the same WBA seminar cited a Nous Group survey as having recorded in March 2018 women as comprising 29% of Victorian barristers, being an increase from 29% to 33% of women at the Victorian Bar in only 2 years. How does this compare to the NSW Bar?

According to statistics published on the NSW Bar Association website, women currently comprise:

• 25% of NSW barristers;

• 14% of NSW silks; and • 27% of the NSW junior bar.

Therefore, the percentage of women silks in both States is comparable and although there is a higher percentage of women at the Victorian Bar (33%) compared to the percentage of women at the NSW Bar (25%), the NSW Bar is now halfway to gender parity. This increase in the number of women at the NSW Bar is for the most part due to the increase in the proportion of women in our NSW Bar Readers course in the past 2 years, with approximately 38% of readers since 2019 being women.

The New South Wales Bar Association’s Strategic Plan for 2021-2025 aims to “Improve and support diversity at the Bar to represent and support the society it serves”.

By Melanie Cairns, Alinea Chambers

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