Scotland's professions appear to be becoming less male dominated.

The latest evidence is that women in law will outnumber men in the near future after a big upturn in their numbers.

Currently women account for just shy of half Scotland's solicitors, but already make up 61 per cent of those under 45. Before long, there will be more female solicitors in Scotland than men.

This is a very welcome, not to say historic, development in a profession that has for centuries been dominated by men. Not only do the figures show that women are now as freely able to embark on a legal career as men, which is good for women, but that the legal profession now better reflects the society in which it operates, which is good for law.

Other professions have seen a similar transformation, perhaps reflecting the fact that girls are now attending university in greater numbers than boys. The Royal College of Physicians has predicted that women will outnumber men in medicine by 2017, due to a huge upsurge in the numbers of women going through medical school in the last 40 years. Some 57 per cent of medical students are women. Among GPs, women are already in the majority. However, the experience of medics is instructive: it shows that women are still less likely to reach the pinnacle of their career than are men.

The reasons why highly capable, professional women get paid less and go less far in their careers are complex. The old thorny problem of women falling behind their male counterparts in the career stakes after taking time off to have children is one explanation; some women feel that if they work part-time they are automatically passed over for promotion; and others suspect male bosses of recruiting those cast in their own image. At the same time, some women simply do not wish to pursue career advancement beyond a certain point.

This highlights the importance of professions adapting to the needs of their workforce instead of expecting the workforce to adapt to them. The hope must be that the young female lawyers now coming through will find that their employers embrace flexible and part-time working to facilitate and enhance their career development. Mentoring of younger female lawyers by women in more senior positions is another worthwhile strategy. Measures such as these should help ensure that in the future women are equally represented in the top jobs.

Some professions maintain a reputation for being dominated by men. The testosterone-fuelled atmosphere in banking prior to the financial crash has been much commented upon. Indeed, the Serious Fraud Office has now charged 13 individuals over alleged manipulation of Libor and they are all men. Women are not immune to such behaviour, but a better gender balance might help change the culture.

A preponderance of men in the workplace has long been seen as normal, but there is no reason why it should be. The rising number of female solicitors shows the face of the professions is changing - for the better.