To mark International Women's Day this year we are celebrating some of the women who make our College a world-leading institution for legal education and research.
Emerita Professor Thornton FAAL, FASSA is a socio-legal and feminist scholar whose work on the legal academy and the legal profession is internationally recognised. She is regularly invited to participate in international projects.
Professor Thornton has published extensively in the area of discrimination and the law. A barrister of the Supreme Court of NSW and the High Court of Australia, her current research project entails a study of the new ways of practising law with regard to gender, professionalism and technology.
What inspired you to pursue law?
I was inspired to specialise in feminism and law in order to shine a light on inequities for women arising from the masculinist bias inherent in all aspects of law. This includes not just the study of the careers of lawyers, academics and judges, but also the way in which gender inequity permeates the theory, substance and practice of law. I have conducted extensive research and published several books and many articles on these issues.
What research project are you most proud to have been involved with and why?
In one current project, I am revisiting equality theory for a discrimination and law workshop. I am motivated to pursue this because equality and social justice are no longer in vogue. The political swing rightwards favours corporate profitmaking and inequality, which are eroding gains formerly made.
Who is a woman in your field you look up to?
The Hon Mary Gaudron QC, Justice of the High Court of Australia 1987-2003.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
While International Women’s Day began as a symbol of the struggle by women for equality at work, it has broadened in scope to encompass not just a memorialising of past struggles, but also a positive celebration of what women have achieved and their contributions to Australian life and culture.
What advice would you give your more junior self?
Not to be so timid and docile when told that certain activities, such as law, are the prerogative of men and should not be pursued by a young woman.
See more Inspiring Women of ANU Law