Nexus Spring/Summer 2006: From the Editor

by Jane Kidner '92

This issue of Nexus is dedicated to women.

Happily, as a woman in the 21st century, I am considered a "person." I am entitled to vote; sit on Canada's senate; hold political office; and practice law. Indeed I can do all of these things, and many more, secure in the knowledge that they are my rights and privileges, as much as they are the rights and privileges of the men who live and work alongside me and every other woman in this country. But take a few small steps backwards in time, and this has not always been the case. Indeed, the very first woman to graduate from U of T Faculty of Law in 1899 was not allowed to practice law because she was a woman. Clara Brett Martin was forced to petition the Law Society several times before she was permitted to become a student-at-law, and again, before she was allowed to be called to the Bar and practice law. For the women who came after her, the discrimination was not as overt. Yet the reality of finding a job and being hired was another story. Those that did find jobs were often the only women in all-male firms, and restricted in their type of practice. Thankfully, there were many courageous and tenacious women who persevered, and in doing so paved the way for the rest of us. For that we must never forget these "trailblazers."

Nineteen very special women graduates - who we consider to be trailblazers in a diversity of ways, and who are representative of all women graduates of the law school - are featured in a permanent photo exhibit installed in the lobby of Flavelle House. On March 8, 2006, the "Trailblazers Exhibit" was unveiled in celebration of International Women's Day. In the weeks and months that followed, it generated an outpouring of positive stories and sentiments. If you have not yet seen the display, please take some time to flip through pages 60 to 83 where their unique photos and stories are reproduced. Better yet, drop by the law school to see it in person.

This issue of Nexus encourages readers to reflect on the amazing accomplishments of our women graduates. But it also urges us to recognize that there is still much more to do. The Focus section beginning on page 24 and running to page 59, "Women, Law and Social Change," is jam packed with ten insightful articles about both personal and public issues confronting women today in Canada and around the world. Professors Nedelsky, Rogerson, Shaffer, Réaume, and others, tackle issues such as motherhood, work-life balance, the evolving law of spousal support, gender equality under the Charter, and international human rights for women and children.

Finally, coinciding with this special issue of Nexus, we applaud the strength and vision of our new dean, Mayo Moran, the first female dean in the 150-year history of our law school. Mayo is a shining example of how far we have come, how much can be accomplished, and how we as a society are richer for the contributions of both men and women equally.

I hope you enjoy this issue and please write to me with your thoughts and stories.

Read more from Nexus Spring/Summer 2006.