SCOTTISH law firms have been urged to address the issue of equal pay after a new survey showed male employees earning considerably more than their female counterparts.

The Law Society of Scotland has called for the legal profession to carry out an equal-pay audit after figures showed women are more likely to earn between £15,000 and £45,000 while men are more prevalent in the £65,000 to £150,000 salary bracket.

Women are also more likely to be assistants, associates and solicitor team members, while men were more likely to be equity partners, consultants or directors.

The survey of solicitors on behalf of the Law Society also found more women worked flexible or part-time hours, often because of child care commitments.

More than two-thirds of those working so-called amended hours felt their firm or employer was supportive of the arrangement, but almost half felt it hampered career progress by reducing or delaying their chances of promotion or becoming a partner.

This was largely a result of working fewer hours and therefore not gaining experience, but some also stated that they were given less responsibility as a result of working amended hours, which meant they could not progress.

Janet Hood, convener of the Law Society's equality and diversity committee, said the gender pay gap had been pushed back, now only appearing after some 10 years of working, but it was then established throughout a solicitor's working life.

"While we can't make definitive statements about barriers to career progress, it's clear that more women than men take career breaks and work amended hours, often because of child-care responsibilities, which is felt to have an impact," she said.

"There also appears to be ­different gender approaches to career success, with reasons such as the perceived high financial risk for the financial rewards in becoming a partner being behind some female solicitors' reasons for not progressing to partnership level, which offers the highest financial rewards.

"That said, it is critical that the profession does not lose out by limiting the career options of people working part-time."

The survey of more than 3400 solicitors also found figures for incidents of discrimination had remained the same as previous years, but a "worrying" number said they had been bullied or harassed at some point during their career.

Meanwhile, a separate survey showed women account for just one in eight top management positions in the City, despite the proportion doubling in the last year.

Research by recruitment firm Astbury Marsden found only 12% of those employed at managing director level were women, up from 6% in 2012. The figures showed only 20% of all professional-level City employees were women, up from 18%.

It also revealed 19% of those in director or vice-president ­positions were women, up from 14% in 2012. The proportion was slightly better than the 17.3% of directorships in the FTSE 100 group of companies held by female executives.

A Government-backed review by Lord Davies of Abersoch has called for a minimum 25% female representation on boards at these top firms by 2015.

The Astbury Marsden research found that there had been a substantial increase in women across the City taking up senior roles in investment banks, fund management and insurance.

But they were still much more likely to be found working as HR professionals or internal auditors than as stockbrokers or private equity staff.