Discrimination in legal practice: an examination of policies impacting on educational opportunities for women
Abstract Purpose - This research extends the traditional cultural divide between male and female lawyers by examining contradictory workplace policies that discriminate against the work and education of female auxiliary workers within general legal practice in Australia. Design/Methodology/Approach - The study uses membership categorisation devices, an ethnomethodological approach, to analyse two policy statements which are in common use in Australian legal practice. Findings - The research finds that the statements, which are a merge of policy and procedures, are fundamentally contradictory. Whilst one prohibits and represses any discrimination against women, the other does not provide educational opportunities for employees, predominantly women, at the auxiliary level of employment. As a result female auxiliary workers are marginalised and their career prospects are diminished. Practical implications - Policies guiding work and education in Australian legal practice reinforce a culture of gender-based discrimination. It is argued that espoused policies need to reflect policies in action by providing career opportunities for women auxiliary workers. Originality/value - The research challenges the notion that espousing a policy of Equal Opportunity leads to women receiving the same educational opportunities as men in Australian legal practice. The research shows the importance of understanding how job category has cultural and gendered meanings.
Multicultural Education & Technology Journal
Commercial Services not elsewhere classified