9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN19 Sociology of Professions

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Rethinking Social Inequalities and Professions: Gender, Ethnicity and Class Building I, Auditório 2

Women in the Bar: A Comparative Study of Finnish and Polish Legal Practice From Gender Perspective

The paper represents the first attempt to the comparative analysis of differences in professional careers of Finnish and Polish women attorneys. Its starting point is the detailed description of research problem regarding the study on females? professional careers in advocacy in two different national contexts. Therefore, firstly, it sketches the nature of the profession with reference to the previous studies on Finnish and Polish women lawyers (Silius 1992; Fuszara 2003). Secondly, it endeavors to discuss the peculiarities of legal practice in both countries and their possible implications for women?s professional activity. Moreover, in order to contribute to the understanding of women?s career and their current position in professions, the paper opens up a discussion on the importance of intersectionality in the research of females? careers. Particularly, due to the fact that nowadays gender can no longer be regarded as a simple bipolar difference (Moser 2006) but it needs to be considered in reference to other interacting factors such as nationality/ethnicity, age and class. In addition, gender is also considered as a relational and flexible part of a legal field (Adkins 2004) and therefore, its effect and value are dependable on the context it is analyzed in.
For this reason, my paper discusses Bourdieusian argument regarding the impact of the structure of a particular field on women?s professional activities. Taking as an example advocacy understood as a potential Bourdieusian field, women are seen as agencies and analyzed in the regard to their capacities for action within the structure of legal practice.
As a result, this paper endeavors to shed a new light on the career, and would capture particularly women?s professional experience, on the contrary to classical career theories predominantly based on the male life cycle (Pierce 2002).