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International Women’s Day Event Calling Time at the Bar: Helena Normanton

Queen’s University Belfast School of Law marked International Women’s Day by examining the barriers women have overcome historically to enter the legal profession. Invited speaker, Dr. Judith Bourne, ambassador of the First 100 Years Project, delivered an important talk on the remarkable life and times of Helena Normanton, the first woman to enter the legal profession after the introduction of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. In front of academics, students and legal practitioners, Dr. Bourne drew a complex portrait of Normanton, emphasising her determination, her status as an ‘outsider’ and the institutional misogyny which she struggled against. Interestingly, Dr. Bourne also drew interesting contemporary parallels as she unpicked accepted narratives around female pioneers who are often framed as ‘lone agents’ obscuring the wider struggle for acceptance and equality.

 This timely talk provided a thought-provoking way to mark International Women’s Day 2019 with QUB School of Law.