“It’s a girl!” As the Ontario press announced, Canada’s first woman lawyer was called to the Ontario bar in February 1897. Quiet Rebels explores experiences of exclusion among the few women lawyers up to 1957, and how their experiences continue to shape gender issues in the contemporary legal profession.
Author Mary Jane Mossman tells the stories of all 187 Ontario women lawyers 1897-1957, revealing the legal profession’s gendered patterns. As a small handful at the Law School, (sometimes the only woman), they were often ignored, and they faced discrimination in obtaining articling positions and legal employment. Most were Protestant, white, and middle-class, and a minority of Jewish, Catholic, and immigrant women lawyers faced even greater challenges. The book also explores some changes, as well as continuities, for the much larger numbers of Ontario women lawyers in recent decades.
This longitudinal study of women lawyers’ gendered experiences in the profession during six decades of social, economic, and political change in early twentieth-century Ontario identifies factors that created – or foreclosed – women lawyers’ professional success. The book’s final section explores how some current women lawyers, in spite of their increased numbers, must remain “quiet rebels” to succeed.