International Women’s Day – Celebrating Women in Law Pt 5
International Women’s Day has taken place annually for well over a century and this year the central theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’.
Tughans is marking the occasion by inviting our female lawyers to share their thoughts and experience and to celebrate women in law. Our contributors represent women at all stages of their legal career, from Trainee to Partner.
Part 5 is from Fiona Kirkpatrick. Fiona is a Director and a member of the Private Client Team.
Remembering the Trailblazers
This International Women’s Day I think it’s important to look back and see how far things have come since the first IWD over a century ago.
I remember my grandmother once explaining to me how she had to leave her civil service job when she got married. I was appalled. This Marriage Bar existed in the civil service and local government in Northern Ireland until the early 1970s. Another family member once described to me how she and her female colleagues working in the bank were constantly turned down for promotion in favour of their less experienced and under-qualified male colleagues. Any challenge to this inequality by a woman usually saw her suddenly redeployed elsewhere. To my modern 21st century ears these experiences sound almost absurd!
In a legal context, we celebrate those female trailblazers of the last 100 years such as Mary Dorothea Heron and Carrie Morrison (the first women admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Ireland and England respectively), Baroness Butler-Sloss (first Lady Justice of Appeal), Baroness Hale (first female Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and first female President of the Supreme Court) and so many others. We’re thankful for all those women, in law and otherwise, that chose to challenge the social norms of the day, to call out bias and to question stereotypes. But we recognise that there’s still more to do, and it’s only through challenge that these changes can evolve.
Fiona Kirkpatrick, Director, Private Client
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