8th March celebrates International Women’s Day. Celebrating the achievement of women around the world.
For the legal sector, this is a chance to honour the many women who have made their mark on the legal system throughout history and to commemorate the women of the future.
For women pre-1919 a legitimate career in the legal profession was a losing battle. Eliza Orme obtained her law degree in 1888 but was still unable to take the solicitors exams.
In 1919, things began to change with the Sex disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 being passed.
Women unexpectedly started to take a stand within the profession. Nancy Astor was the first women MP and Ada Summers was elected the first female magistrate.
In the next decade, women showed that they were in the profession for the long haul with women being sworn in as judges, juries, solicitors, and barristers.
Today women are front and centre as they continue to make history. In 2020 Lady Hale retired from her position as president of the Supreme court after becoming the first female president in 2017.
Lady Hale made the headlines many times during her time in post for cases such as the prolonging of parliament and Lee v Asher’s case involving a baker refusing to supply a gay couple.
Another influential figure is the newly appointed president of the Law Society, Stephanie Boyce, who has made history as the first BAME president of the Law Society.
Whilst we celebrate the figures, we see every day on the news and those we inspire to be like, we must not lose sight of that International Women’s Day is about celebrating women everywhere.
The women of yesterday may have made a path for you today, but you are a pathway to the future.
The OULS law society has seen some amazing students make it in the profession, and we continue to see the OU making its mark on the legal sector.
Past Chair of the OULS Laurie-Elizabeth Ketley, who has not only been an inspiration to me but other students, has recently obtained the Baroness Hale of Richmond Scholarship. In the award presented to Laurie-Elizabeth, Lady Hale wrote, ‘a woman who has shown great courage and determination as well as intellectual ability, in triumphing over adversity.’
Women and the OU are starting to be noticed. Women in Law have been making a difference for over 100 years and the next 100 years will be no different.
Written by: Victoria-Jayne Scholes
OULS News Editor.