March 8 saw the annual International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. On this day, it is important to celebrate and commemorate the women who have paved the way for future generations whilst recognising the continuing work needed to achieve gender equality.

This year marks 50 years since the first woman, Clare Faulds, was called to the Manx Bar. I remember interviewing Claire for my Womann pages, back in the 1990s when female advocates in the island were still in the minority.

Now, more than half the Manx Bar is female.

To mark International’s Women’s Day, we asked three female members of the Manx Bar at different stages in their legal career about their experiences.

Kathryn Clough,

president of the Isle of Man Law Society

The Manx Bar has changed dramatically since I began my legal career 25 years ago. What was then a male dominated profession has grown to become an equal and diverse profession, where gender is no longer a bar to success.

I have seen viewpoints change for the better and greater opportunities for women.

I have been able to succeed as an advocate, becoming a partner in a leading local firm, as well as a mother, without having to compromise on either level. I am the third female president of the Law Society, the first president having only been elected in 2008.

Whilst great strides have been made within the profession, I have had the pleasure of working with Judge of Appeal, Anthony Cross KC, this year in trying to better understand why more women are not entering the judiciary in the Isle of Man and to promote this opportunity.

This is, of course, not a problem unique to the Isle of Man, but one that is faced by many countries throughout the world.

Sara-Jayne Dodge,

junior advocate

Since commencing my training in 2017, and qualifying as an advocate in 2020, my experience as a female advocate at the Bar has been positive. I can see many strong successful female advocates who are positive role models not only for myself but other young females wanting to qualify as advocates.

These women demonstrate the ability to succeed as an advocate and raise a family without detriment to one or the other.

I am treated with respect and as an equal to my male counterparts, which is evidence of real equality within the profession.

I am the education chair of the Junior Lawyers Association and can see that there are more females joining the profession than males at the current time.

This is both positive and exciting for our profession.

Victoria Watson,

trainee advocate

I began my legal experience on the island as a paralegal before becoming a trainee advocate in November 2022.

I feel inspired by the number of female advocates occupying a broad range of roles within the Manx Bar. Learning from the female advocates in my firm, across criminal, civil and commercial litigation, shows that every area of law is accessible and the old misconception that women are expected to work in certain areas, no longer exists.

In November 2022, I attended a Careers Fair for sixth form students on behalf of the IoM Law Society.

The number of young women who approached me and my colleagues wanting more information on how to become an advocate was very positive and hopefully is a sign of a continuing diverse Bar and judiciary.

I believe it is important to recognise the achievements of female advocates at the Manx Bar whilst also continuing to raise awareness about equality and pushing for progress.