CIArb News

International Women's Day 2021

15 Mar 2021

The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) 2021 International Women’s Day online event was aptly opened by CIArb’s current President and the 4th woman and first North American woman to hold the position, Ann Ryan Robertson C.Arb FCIArb. Ann noted the shifts that can be seen in how women are viewed and represented in society in looking at the changes in advertisements from the 1960s to today. Clearly, things have changed but there is still work to be done. Focusing on the shifts that have occurred in arbitration she noted initiatives such as the Equal Representation in Arbitration (ERA) Pledge, Arbitrator Intelligence, and CIArb’s training opportunities and Women in ADR initiative. As we have seen from the ICCA task force report issued in 2020, institutional appointments of female arbitrators have doubled almost across the board since the creation of the ERA Pledge in 2015. However, this progress has not yet been reflected over to party appointments. The transformative work continues. 

Next, CIArb Trustee, Lucy Greenwood C.Arb FCIArb, introduced this year’s keynote speaker, Amanda Lee FCIArb, by noting that it should no longer be considered newsworthy when women take leadership positions in the world. She noted a few of the numerous women currently leading the arbitration community, such as the new President of the ICC Court, Claudia Salomon; the President of the LCIA Court,  Paula Hodges QC, who also takes over from another female leader, Judith Gill FCIArb; the current Director-General of CIArb, Catherine Dixon; and the current President of CIArb, Ann Ryan Robertson, who will be succeeded by Jane Gunn FCIArb for the first-ever back-to-back female CIArb presidencies. However, she noted that in spite of the progress, the COVID pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on women in the workplace translating to higher job losses and greater pressures to take on homeschooling and caregiving of family members. She also noted a rise in the incidence of micro-aggressions by men which seem to be aided by the on-screen working environment, as well as the return of the “man-el” or all-male panels of experts in online webinars. But in the face of this, we have female leaders like keynote speaker, Amanda Lee, who brings endless energy to connecting new arbitration practitioners to opportunities and colleagues around the world.  


Clockwise from top left: Ann Ryan Robertson C.Arb FCIArb, Amanda Lee FCIArb and Lucy Greenwood C.Arb FCIArb

Amanda’s thoughtful, inspiring keynote speech “Children of the Revolution: Boldly going towards new gender diversity frontiers in international arbitration” not only reflected on historic steps made by renowned trailblazers of gender diversity in international dispute resolution, but also highlighted the challenges our generation has left to tackle and the progress the next generation will need to maintain to make sure that our hard-won victories are not lost.

Amanda guided us through the thorny past, described the present and made her predictions for the future of gender diversity in ADR. She looked back at achievements made by powerful, inspiring women who took leadership positions at LCIA, ICC, AAA, CIArb, ArbitralWomen and other institutions and initiatives around the world and acknowledged the slow, but steady progress that has been made throughout the decades.

Owing to this and better awareness of the issue, the present generation of female arbitration practitioners is much better equipped to work their way/ lead their way towards the realm where gender diversity is a given, however, various unavoidable and trivial challenges and “battles that we must fight” remain complacency, the frequent unwillingness of event organisers to invite female speakers to their panels, notwithstanding the fact that there is no shortage of talent in the field. Diversification of diversity, according to Amanda, is one more battle we have yet to win: we ourselves must not look at gender diversity through the prism of affinity bias, as there is so much more than gender in our identities. Amanda placed emphasis on accessibility of education, internships, competitions, other career opportunities and related challenges aspiring female practitioners have to face in the competitive legal world.

Last but not least, we must share information, recognize and raise awareness of talented female arbitrators of all ages, nationalities, backgrounds and beliefs, mentor and promote them: “I challenge you all to better support each other, to celebrate each other’s achievements and to let go of preconceived notions about what a woman can do and should be.”

Clockwise from top left: Rosemary Jackson QC, Kim Franklin QC C.Arb FCIArb, Susan Lindsey C.Arb FCIArb and Dorothy Udeme Ufot SAN C.Arb FCIArb

Panel discussion with exceptional role models and leading ADR specialists Rosemary Jackson QC, Susan Lindsey C.Arb FCIArb and Dorothy Udeme Ufot SAN C.Arb FCIArb moderated by Kim Franklin QC C.Arb FCIArb followed. 

The panelists shared their impressive stories about becoming lawyers, their views on the profession   at the beginning of their careers and how such views changed along the way, their ambitions, aspirations, dreams and challenges faced, in particular related to stereotypical biases. They considered important issues for women professionals including the myth of ‘having it all’, whether the glass ceiling is at home and whether success impacts likeability.   

We are grateful for the insights given by all speakers and hope that their unique and inspiring views have touched the hearts of thousands of women practitioners around the world.

To view the recording of the event, please visit CIArb’s YouTube channel.

We thank our media partners: LexisNexis; ArbitralWomen; Transnational Dispute Management; International Mediation Dispute; ICLP ADR Center; Mediators Beyond Border International; SIAC; Swiss Arbitration Association; Women Way in Arbitration LatAm; Thomson Reuters; Careers in Arbitration

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