Author(s): Margaret Thornton
This paper interrogates the ways in which different meanings of equality and inequality are produced within political and legal discourses. With particular regard to the Australian experience, the paper considers the significance of the disappearance of affirmative action (AA) from the equality lexicon with the repeal of the federal AA legislation and its replacement with the equal opportunity (EO) for women in the workplace legislation. Even as this change was being implemented, EO was already being superseded in favor of ‘diversity’. It is argued that the linguistic changes signal a shift to the right of the political spectrum which emit deeply conservative and regressive messages regarding the gendered character of the workplace. Illustrations are drawn from the dissonant relationship between women and authority.