The biggest ever survey of women’s status and role within the profession may contradict recent suggestions that the recession is having less impact on female workers than on men, the new chairwoman of the Association of Women Solicitors (AWS) said last week.

The survey, to be carried out by Professor Janet Walsh of King’s College, London, involves a questionnaire sent to all 17,322 AWS members. Preliminary findings are likely to be published in the second quarter of 2009. Clare McConnell, elected AWS chairwoman at last week’s annual general meeting, said the survey is expected to ‘paint a picture of widespread inequality’. Many women work part-time or flexibly because of childcare arrangements, she said ‘and these are often the first positions to be cut’.

McConnell is a partner and head of projects at City firm Stephenson Harwood.