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Women in the Legal Profession: Comparative analysis between China and the United Kingdom (Advert Reference: SF19/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

Academic research in the developed West 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, scholarly research on the subject has increased elsewhere in the world, seeking to fill in the gaps in knowledge and 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, for example, Michelson, 2009), and female judges’ roles and positions in the justice system and judicial production (see Shen, 2017). However, much remains to be done to further explore women’s participation and performance in legal institutions and processes. This project aims to generate rich empirical data to address the gaps in existing literature, by examining female legal professionals in China and the United Kingdom (UK) – two jurisdictions with remarkably distinct legal histories and socio-political realities, between which gender is a shared concept.

The proposed study will be empirically based and seeks to gain primary and secondary data about women in the legal professions in China and the UK, to examine how gender socially and professionally impacts on women. 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 their 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, socio-cultural gender norms, gender equality and gender-related discrimination in the two systems.

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 and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

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


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

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