Gender equity in the legal sector was called into question on the front page on this day in 1995, after the ACT Law Society announced initiatives to address concerns on the matter within the profession.
There were no female judges in the ACT, only one female magistrate, and three female barristers in private practice. Of solicitors with practising certificates, 27 per cent were female and only 19 per cent of them were sole practitioners or partners.
The move to address gender equity concerns was welcomed by Women Lawyers' Association president Alison Pert, who said despite it being well overdue, it was "better late than never". Ms Pert said many inappropriate remarks were often made towards women in the profession, with instances of women being asked of their preferred method of contraception or being advised not to have children.
A woman who had already made headway into breaking through the thick glass ceiling was Amanda Tonkin, a female barrister who welcomed any changes to the gender inequities. She said the judiciary was similar to older nuns in a convent who "still cherish a certain way of life and social system".
"I think women have a hard job convincing men that they are as good, if not better, than the men," she said. "In terms of recognising women as equal, they have problems; they tend to see the differences before they see anything else."
Another female lawyer who assisted on a report addressing gender equality in the profession, Thena Kyprianou, said: "You have to be pretty aggressive to survive. Because men were there first, they play by men's rules and women don't want to put up with it."
Miss Pert agreed on the inherently conservative nature of the profession.
"I don't think it's that people don't want to promote a woman," she said.
"I think it's just so ingrained what a lawyer ought to look like and how they should sound."
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