ICAM Survey: Media Representation of Women Lawyers

A recent survey conducted by the Madrid Bar Association (ICAM) reveals that while 85% of female lawyers consider the media a crucial tool for advancing real equality, only 15% believe that men and women in the legal profession are adequately represented in specialized legal news and columns. In contrast, 8 out of 10 female lawyers believe there is an overrepresentation of male experts and opinion contributors, with the majority attributing this to persistent barriers to accessing leadership positions in the legal sector, and to a lesser extent, factors such as lack of time or imposter syndrome.

The report, titled “The Image of Women Lawyers in the Media” is based on a survey of 400 female lawyers conducted by the Madrid Bar Association. The results, published during the ICAM’s Equality Week, conclude that the relationship between journalism and the judicial sphere is not merely circumstantial but is “profoundly essential in constructing an informed and just society.”

The report identifies underlying factors contributing to gender disparity in media representation, including unconscious biases, predominantly male professional networks, and cultural norms favoring male voices in expert contexts. It also warns of a potential lack of conscious efforts by the media to seek and present female legal experts. The report emphasizes the crucial role of media visibility in establishing professional authority and influence, reinforcing the structural barriers to gender equality in the legal profession. Additionally, the survey highlights a deficit in training on spokespersonship and media relations in the legal sector, with only 18% receiving such training, indicating a demand for skill development among legal professionals.

Proactive Measures

Given this scenario, the Madrid Bar Association believes it is imperative to take proactive measures to correct this inequality both within the media and legal institutions. In the media sphere, there is a proposed need to broaden the spectrum of consulted sources, ensuring more gender-equitable representation among expert voices through editorial policies that promote diversity and gender equality.

Simultaneously, professional organizations are encouraged to take the initiative to promote and showcase the work of women lawyers, facilitating their training in spokespersonship and media management and encouraging their participation in public events and media contributions.

ICAM’s Agenda of Women Jurists Communication

In line with these recommendations, the Madrid Bar Association has created the first Agenda of Women Jurists Communication, a directory featuring more than 250 experts in 46 different legal fields. Covering areas from administrative law to AI and robotics, violence against women, compliance, environmental law, and corporate law, the agenda includes partners from large firms, legal aid attorneys, academics, public servants, and in-house lawyers.

“The ICAM Agenda of Women Jurists Communication is designed to make it easier for journalists, who often operate under tight deadlines, to access reliable and quality sources. By including more than 40 areas of specialization, this agenda ensures that the media can rely on the expert voice of female lawyers to enrich their reporting, regardless of the topic,” says Isabel Winkels, vice-dean and head of Equality at ICAM and managing partner of the firm Winkels Abogados.