Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Shortlisting Women Creates the Appearance of Gender Diversity, But Maintains the Status Quo of Exclusion
Professor Renee Knake is on a mission to expose the increasing trend of women being shortlisted—i.e. qualified for a position but not selected from a list, a phenomenon that creates the appearance of diversity but preserves the status quo.
Speaking ahead of her keynote at The Legal Festival in Sydney in June, Prof. Knake says that leadership in the legal sector does not reflect the public it serves, even though women have entered law in numbers equal to men for decades.
“This phenomenon often happens with any pursuit of professional advancement, whether the judge in the courtroom, the partner in the corner office, or the coach on the playing field. Women, and especially female minorities, regularly find themselves equally or more capable than the other candidates on the shortlist, but far less likely to be chosen.”
The legal profession should reflect the diversity of the public it serves, argues Prof. Knake, who currently holds the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at RMIT University and is also the Doherty Chair in Legal Ethics at the University of Houston. “Having diverse representation is important for institutional legitimacy and the credibility of rule of law and access to justice.”