Swethaa Ballakrishnen, 'Why is Gender a Form of Diversity?': Rising Advantages for Women in Global Indian Law Firms, 20 Ind. J. Global Legal Stud. 1261 (2013).
Preliminary fieldwork suggests that despite many obstacles still present in the larger profession, women in India’s big, elite law firms are not discriminated against or disadvantaged as compared to their male peers. This “gender does not matter” narrative is not uncommon among successful women in high status work. However, what is unique is that this narrative is substantiated by their personal experience: they receive similar organizational rewards (pay, promotion, client attention) and interactional status among clients, peers and superiors alike. This is an intriguing finding in that it does not correspond to mostly gender-disadvantageous accounts of women in high status professions universally, nor in the legal profession specifically. Furthermore, contemporary comparative research suggests that the Indian legal profession is more resistant to feminization than its global counterparts, and that even exaggerated Bar Council of India Admission figures suggest than only about 10 percent of India’s legal population (estimated at about 1.3 million) are women. This research attempts to preliminarily navigate this new territory of innovation and formal equality within the Indian legal profession by exploring the contours of this advantage across different levels of analysis.