Gender equality vital for legal profession

Associate Professor Jane Power spoke at the School of Law’s Eminent Speakers Series on 2 May

23 May 2017

Women continue to make a considerable contribution to the legal profession, despite facing a number of professional challenges, according to Jane Power, Associate Professor at Notre Dame’s School of Law, Fremantle.

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The guest speaker at the University’s Eminent Speakers Series on 2 May, 2017, Associate Professor Power encouraged all members of the legal profession to promote gender equality, commenting that female lawyers earn, on average, 35.6 per cent less than their male counterparts.

Titled: ‘35.6% - The Worth of a Woman Lawyer: The Times they are (not) a Changing’, Associate Professor Power pointed out that the number of female graduates from Australian Law Schools equaled or exceeded the number of male graduates, and had done for well over 20 years. But, this was not reflected in a proportionate increase in women being represented at the upper echelons of the profession.

Associate Professor Power told the audience comprising Law students, recent graduates, established practitioners and very senior members of the profession that both men and women have important roles to play in encouraging equality in the workplace.

"You are not powerless at any stage of your career – you just have different doses of it at various times,” she said.

“All lawyers can assist in shifting the current concept of the role of women. Supporting colleagues, mentoring colleagues, being proactive in accepting new practices in the workplace all contribute to changing the culture of the profession in its attitude to women practitioners.”

Associate Professor Power has been working in the legal profession since 1983 and has been a part of Notre Dame’s School of Law since 2002, most notably in her role as Dean of the School between 2008 and 2011.

Her contribution to the legal profession has been recognised at both the State and national levels: in 2017 she received the Women Lawyers of Western Australia Senior Woman Lawyer of the Year Award in recognition of her contribution to the legal profession; and inclusion in the Australian Women Lawyers as Active Citizens Online Exhibition, which highlights the vital contributions of Australian women lawyers as active citizens.

Professor Doug Hodgson, Dean of Notre Dame’s School of Law, commented on the lively commentary by the audience who shared their own experiences of gender imbalance, and said that gender inequality was a particularly important issue about which Law students need to be aware.

“In view of Associate Professor Power’s significant experience as both a legal academic and legal practitioner and her years of committed service to securing gender equality in the legal profession, we have benefitted greatly from this most informative and insightful lecture on progress made, and measures still required to further reduce the gender gap. Her talk was deeply inspirational and motivating to those who attended, particularly our Law students,” Professor Hodgson said.

The Eminent Speakers Series features lectures by recognised experts speaking on contemporary legal and professional matters. The aim of the Series is to enhance intellectual engagement and provide networking opportunities with leading members of the legal profession for students.

Previous presenters have included The Honourable Chief Justice Wayne Martin AC , The Honourable Mathias Cormann, Judge Denis Reynolds, Mr Matt Keogh MP, Ms Ros Fogliani (State Coroner of WA), The Honourable Justice Janine Pritchard, The Honourable Justice Robert Mitchell, The Honourable Melissa Parke MP, Ms Raelene Webb QC, and Justice Joseph McGrath.


Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;