Women solicitors are being denied promotions because of expectations they may become pregnant, latest research into working patterns suggests.

The report, Perceptions and impacts of working patterns within the legal profession in Scotland, for the Law Society of Scotland, looked at the impact of technology, experiences and perceptions of flexible working, the gender-based pay gap and experiences of discrimination.

It states: ‘Some partners acknowledged that they would make assumptions about a female employee that they would not make about a male, and that these assumptions would affect promotional opportunities.

‘Evidence of females being denied promotions or alternative jobs because of an expectation that they may get pregnant in the future was uncovered.

‘There was also concern and/or reluctance expressed by some for firms/organisations to allow teams or the number of partners to become too heavily reliant on females due to the expectation that they will take maternity leave.

’Some even suggested that positive discrimination may well take place to redress the balance of teams in favour of males’.

The research was commissioned to provide more details about work patterns following the Society’s 2013 Profile of the Profession survey.

The 2015 report highlights an embedded culture of working extensive hours, which was experienced at all levels within the profession, though partners were generally acknowledged to contribute the most significant numbers overall.

Some felt certain people worked additional hours to impress management while others were concerned that if they were not seen to be in the office ‘after hours’, this would have a negative effect on their salary and career progression.

The extent of current, and largely unrewarded, overtime led many respondents to feel they were being taken advantage of.

Meanwhile, smartphones with ‘push’ technology were also seen as a significant driver of additional working hours and a poor work/life balance.