Workplace gender inequality is an ongoing and systemic social problem. Despite women's entry into professional occupations, the 'glass ceiling' effect persists. With Australia's legal profession traditionally exhibiting a masculine workplace culture, championing meritocratic values, Women Senior Counsels (SC) represent an elite social group which has apparently 'smashed the glass ceiling' by achieving career success. Informed by Marxist-feminist theory and Symbolic Interaction theory, this article uses qualitative email interviews and courtroom field observations to explore professional norms about meritocratic ideals and workplace stereotypes regarding success. The findings reveal that female Senior Counsels have, in keeping with broader social trends, rejected masculine 'successful barrister' stereotypes, and are substituting meritocracy for traditional 'masculine' competency measures. This substitution may illustrate semantic reallocation more than genuine social change. However, as our findings reveal, Australia's legal profession upholds standards of meritocratic competency grounded in masculinity, whereby barriers to true workplace gender equality remain largely invisible.
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||Australian Journal of Gender and Law|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|