Key Research Questions

  1. Has the professional authority and public influence accorded to lawyers enhanced these women’s civic authority?
  2. How have these women used their legal training to political effect and how effective has the influence of women lawyers as public actors been in socio-legal reform towards an equality of citizenship for women?
  3. Have women lawyers, in contrast to male lawyers, perceived their personal professional role as part of a gender equality movement? Did they, for example, choose law because of its reform potential?
  4. How has the intersection of gender with ethnicity, age, location, type of legal practice and religion influenced the way trailblazing women lawyers experience and retell their lives at the ‘legal frontier’ and in public life?
  5. Can the networks of associations captured in the social network map predict the likely outcomes of individual choices and experiences, historical policy phases and the future impact of proposed policy developments?
  6. What do the trailblazers’ different ways of retelling their experiences reveal about their position within the legal and national culture?
  7. What does the collection reveal about the mooted impact of ‘women in the judiciary’? Close attention to the extent of interaction between the personal histories, social associations, self-conceptualisations and the judging style and decisions of these pioneer women Justices will be significant to the citizenship and SNM inquiry.
  8. How do these pioneer narratives connect and compare to other stories of pioneering women in Australia, and with parallel International oral histories of trailblazing women lawyers?
  9. How should the use of oral history within legal history and ‘public memory’ research be theorised and how can an ethno-historical approach to life narratives extend the value of storytelling within legal scholarship?