Women @ Law, Griffith University International Womens Day Legal Leadership Event

Women @ Law, Griffith University International Womens Day Legal Leadership Event

Christine Smyth, Dean of Law, Professor Penelope Mathew and Jasmine Altinkaya, President of the Gold Coast Law Student Association attended the Griffith University International Womens Day Legal Leadership Event on 26 March 2015. Griffith University has uploaded the below article to their online portal.


“Workforce diversity and equity is everybody’s business and at Griffith, we believe that all people have inherent dignity and the right to be treated equitably. Ensuring pay equity is a natural extension of our values. With equity as a cornerstone of our workplace culture, I am committed to ensuring that the University continues to build on its impressive history of engagement with equity and diversity issues.”

Professor Ian O’Connor, Vice Chancellor and President


Griffith University is committed to creating a culture where women feel welcome, valued and supported. Women@Griffith has been created to support women through their career and development. Here you will find a wide range of resources for women including details on upcoming events, interesting news items and projects that support women. Further to this, the University is working to raise the representation of women at senior levels across the University as outlined in the Equity and Diversity Plan 2014 – 2017. This trend of under-represented women in senior positions can be witnessed across industries around Australia. Griffith strives to remain a leader in this area and be an example for other organisations to follow.

News and key events

Improving Women’s Workforce Participation in the Senior Ranks of Law 

Law Schools nationally produce over 60% of female graduates to the Australian law industry. However female law  graduate representation at the Bar, Judiciary, Professorial and at Partner level continues to stagnate at very low levels.

In March 2015, the Griffith Law School instigated its inaugural Women’s Legal Leadership Forum as part of the March International Women’s Day activities. The aims of the forum were to increase awareness amongst emerging and future law graduates of the diversity of career paths, and the challenges facing female law practitioners and how to overcome them in a male oriented profession.

Each presenter focused on their journey of leadership.  Christine Smyth spoke of the challenges and opportunities in the private sector and commercial litigation for women.

Professor Pene Mathew, Dean of the Griffith Law School spoke of her journey in the public sector and academia and the opportunities and workforce flexibility that the tertiary education sector provides, and then Jasmine Altinkaya, President of the Gold Coast Law Student Association spoke of her challenges in leadership and what she hoped to achieve with her graduate position in a multinational firm next year.

The event was well attended by local high school students, legal studies teachers, members of staff and industry personnel.  The response was very positive and reinforced the need of the importance of such events for career planning and to tackle inequities in the work place.  As part of its equity commitments, the Griffith Law School plans to hold such events in the future. For  further information contact Melanie O’Toole, School Manager, Griffith Law School.

International Dialogue on Women in Leadership

In November 2014, Griffith University, in partnership with the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, hosted the International Dialogue on Women in Leadership, an official G20-related event. Professor Ian O’Connor, Vice Chancellor provided one of the official welcomes to delegates on day one of proceedings and on day two, Chancellor The Honourable Leneen Forde AC reflected on her younger years as a lawyer and the gender pay gap at the time.

Delegates were encouraged to focus conversations on action and progress. The inclusion of a target in the G20 communiqué to reduce the gender gap in the workforce by 25% by 2025 (which will bring 100 million women into the workforce) was a hot topic for all speakers across the two day event.

A key theme to emerge from all discussions was the need to shift social norms around gender, with many speakers affirming that women’s participation in leadership roles creates a symbol for broader social norms and change.

For futher informaiton on Griffith University’s involvment in the event, see the Women in leadership at the G20: round uparticle by Centre for Work Organisation and Wellbeing HDR student Jessica Bloomfield and Centre MemberAssociate Professor Kate Shacklock.

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