Macquarie University
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Be a sport?: connecting past participation in sport and gender inequality in Australia's largest corporate law firms

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posted on 2022-03-29, 02:42 authored by Jodie Skellern
Explaining the persistence of gender inequality in large corporate law firms, by focusing on women's domestic roles, has not produced significant change. I consider this puzzle by studying the under-representation of early-career female lawyers in the pipeline that produces partners in a large Australian corporate law firm. A mixed-methods research design, and a theoretical framework developed by appropriating Pierre Bourdieu's theory and analytical tools, are used to investigate how power transfers between fields: from the hegemonically masculine field of sport as a source of knowledge - to the economic domain of a large corporate law firm as a workplace. I take sport to be a central source for developing transferable soft skills for the workplace. Further, I claim that the gendered experience of sport, in Australia, results in different capacities to acquire and practise such skills, better enabling accelerated career trajectories for early-career male lawyers. Neither gender diversity nor social justice will be achieved by encouraging women to participate in sport on male terms. Instead, I conclude there is greater economic and social value to be gained by changing the decision-making practices, and the valuation of social and cultural capital, within large corporate law firms. Specifically, a lazy or convenient decision-making process, that risks confusing talent with visibility, should be replaced.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1. The transfer of masculine power between fields -- Chapter 2. Researching how masculine power transfers between fields -- Chapter 3. Revealing how masculine power transfers from sport to the workplace (qualitative findings) -- Chapter 5. How masculine power reproduces in a large corporate law firm : discussion and conclusion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 89-97

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Sociology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Sociology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Shaun Wilson

Additional Supervisor 1

Judy Lattas


Copyright Jodie Skellern 2015. Copyright disclaimer:






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