Post a Comment Print Share on Facebook
Featured María Jesús Montero Reino Unido IBEX 35 Feijóo Parlamento Europeo

The "caregiver role", a brake on the rise in the professional careers of judges and prosecutors

They point out that attention to the family causes women to suffer "a certain delay" in their professional advancement.

- 5 reads.

The "caregiver role", a brake on the rise in the professional careers of judges and prosecutors

They point out that attention to the family causes women to suffer "a certain delay" in their professional advancement


The "caregiver role" that women tend to assume, either due to external factors such as "social imposition", or due to internal factors due to "the way we are educated", ends up weighing on the careers of judges and prosecutors - -that despite being a majority in both bodies they continue to be underrepresented in their leadership-, for which reason they demand effective measures in favor of conciliation that allow them to overcome that barrier.

In interviews with Europa Press, the president of the Social Chamber of the Supreme Court (TS), Rosa María Virolés; the senior judge of Madrid, María Jesús del Barco; and the prosecutor lieutenant of the National Court (AN), Marta Durantez; as well as Verónica Ponte, head of a Court of First Instance and Instruction of Getxo (Basque Country), and Laura Bermúdez, prosecutor in the territorial section of Inca (Baleares), agree that access to the career is not the problem because it is It is an objective test.

Problems arise on the way to promotion. "There is a mark of machismo, which I think is improving, but there is in society and, therefore, in our careers, because we are also part of society," explains Durantez.

She remembers that when she was at her first destination, in Algeciras, when she was about 26 years old, when the judge ordered a lawyer to speak with the prosecutor, she addressed the then court clerk, "a middle-aged man" instead of her. "And I was sitting in my place, the place that the prosecutor occupies," she emphasizes.

Beyond that anecdote, Durantez assures that he has not seen "discrimination" in his professional career, although he adds: at least "that I am aware of, because sometimes we normalize certain behaviors."

"Yes, it is true that people from my promotion, who started out the same, with the same seniority, were able to access positions of responsibility much earlier than we compañeras have been able to access," she reflects.

Ponte also affirms that "the problem is more subtle". "They don't believe that she is the judge," she says and narrates that one election night an official had to intervene to prevent a girl from leaving until the appropriate checks were made. "When I went, she told me that she was going to leave, I told her that she was the judge and (...) she burst into tears in surprise," she describes and says that to her fiancee, also a judge, "those things don't happen to him."

Virolés, who entered the judicial career in 1987 and has been climbing to the top, recognizes that as a woman you have to "fight much more than a man." "But if you already know what is going to happen to you when you go somewhere, then you are very prepared. I was already prepared for what I could find and I have found it," she sums up.

Durantez believes that "the basis is that the care of the family, the elderly, the children" causes women to have "a certain delay in what is professional progression."

"I did resign, at a certain moment in my life, because my son was small, to lead the anti-drug delegation of the Pontevedra Prosecutor's Office because it required such dedication (...) that it was difficult for me to reconcile," he reveals.

In her case, she clarifies that this decision did not penalize her because there were other opportunities, although she admits that it may not have been so. "It's about the train, it goes by once and you get on it or you lose it," she illustrates.

To this day, she maintains that this "caregiver role" continues to weigh because "you have lived it since you were a child." "You go to a course for prosecutors, it ends at noon or in the afternoon and you see the vast majority of prosecutors calling their families on the phone (...) something that you don't see in your colleagues," she says.

Bermúdez, who approved the opposition to prosecutor in 2019, confesses that he would not make "big leaps" in employment that could affect his family. "This is more personal, but I think that this mental weight still exists that in the end it has to be you, as a woman, the one who generates that security in the family (...) And I don't know to what extent in men it exists that burden", he declares, pointing to "a social imposition that is instilled in us from a young age".

Del Barco agrees that the obstacle for women arises when promoting. In particular, when facing discretionary charges. "First, we ask for it less," she states, spinning that "some people talk about the impostor syndrome", to emphasize that in her case she presented herself to the Dean's Office without "any complex".

As a second cause, it refers to the fact that there is a stage in which women move away from the merits that are later valued to access those discretionary positions (courses, teaching, etc.). Del Barco admits that when her children were younger, she dedicated herself more to their care than to filling her backpack with merits for eventual positions, but she qualifies: "I enjoyed spending the afternoon making cupcakes more than preparing a course."

However, she understands that some colleagues may think that they have "wasted" years by having to take care of their children or parents. And she reiterates that "perhaps" it happens more to female judges because, "due to a cultural issue," they are more in charge of care.

Ponte, who has been in the judicial career for 10 years and one in Getxo, highlights that although she is not a mother, she has prioritized conciliation. "Now I spend my time traveling to go to work, because I live in Santander. I prefer to be close to my family. I think that's something that many women prefer," she says.

Virolés emphasizes that, although "there is still a woman who at a certain moment in her life prefers to give priority to other family circumstances, what she has to take into account is that the CGPJ provides the means so that no one is left behind". Del Barco disagrees on the latter, denouncing that the CGPJ "has done little or nothing" in this regard.

Asked about the key to their leadership, Del Barco, Durantez and Virolés responded that the determining factor is their character. "The condition of a woman will accompany you throughout your life (...) but in terms of the performance of the work as a prosecutor's lieutenant, I think that it does not depend on gender, but on factors such as professionalism, enthusiasm, the desire to do things ", states Durantez and ditch:" I do not claim to be an example of anything.

In the same way, she emphasizes that not because she is a woman should one think that one must "show more", "nor ask for forgiveness because a man does not occupy a position that until now has never been occupied by a woman". "In no case is it going to be a demerit or a worse condition to be a woman, at least the same," she frames.

Del Barco, for his part, believes that when women lead they are "more empathetic and more practical", that they work "very well" as a team, perhaps because of that "component" of "caring" for their people.

Asked about possible remedies for this gender gap, Bermúdez is clear that "conciliation, despite the fact that much progress has been made, continues to be quite improvable", and mentions colleagues who are beginning to have children and "are forced in a certain way to request a leave of absence. "What needs to be stopped is that social awareness that the house continues to belong to the woman," she asserts.

Durantez and Virolés stress that the most effective thing would be to comply with the laws that already exist. The prosecutor lieutenant emphasizes that "parity is effective in everything." For example, that departments such as gender violence or protection of minors do not always or mostly fall on women. "We can also be very good prosecutors for economic crimes or anti-corruption," she adds.

Viroles is optimistic because women have long been the majority in the judicial career. "Justice will be more for women (...) There are those who say 'perhaps in 10 years'. I, well, in 10 years when I come back, maybe not, but in 20 years there will be an extraordinary change," he confides.