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Women in the Legal Profession: An inquiry into Chinese female lawyers (Advert Reference: SF19/BL/LAW/SHEN)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Research in the Western developed systems has paid much attention to women in the legal world – the judiciary and the legal profession. The scholarship is politically important in the West as it is about a matter of democracy. In recent years, academic research in this field has increased elsewhere in the world, seeking to fill in the gaps in international literature about women’s representation and the roles they play in the elite professions in law. China is one of the latecomers. As regards China, recent studies have investigated female legal professionals, focusing on feminisation and gender inequality for women lawyers (see e.g. Michelson, 2009) and female judges’ roles and positions in the justice system and judicial production (see Shen, 2017). However, much still needs to be done to further explore women’s participation in legal institutions and processes.

The proposed project aims to address the voids in existing literature, by examining female lawyers in China. It will be empirically based and seek to gain primary and secondary knowledge about women in the Chinese legal profession, to examine how gender socially and professionally impacts on them. It will be designed to place female lawyers in the center of the study, by listening to their own voices about social and professional expectations of women (and men), their current status in the legal profession, their gendered concerns, and whether women bring anything unique to the legal system and practice. Furthermore, the study’s comparative approaches will explore how tradition and culture impact on women’s views about feminism, gender norms, gender equality and gender-related discrimination in different socio-legal systems. It will be a multidisciplinary study that requires engagement with literature in law, jurisprudence and gender, cultural and political studies to enrich international research on gender and the legal profession.

This project is supervised by Prof Anqi Shen.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see:

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


Shen, A. 2020. Women Policing in China: Separate but equal? In C. Rabe-Hemp and V. Garcia (eds.)

Women Policing the World: Shared Challenges and Successes in the Integration of Women Police Worldwide. ‎Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Shen, Anqi. 2017. Women Judges in Contemporary China: Gender and judging. London: Palgrave.

Shen, A. 2015. Offending Women in Contemporary China: Gender and pathways into crime. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

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