Women and the Law by Susan Atkins and Brenda Hoggett (1984)

Although not aiming to be a legal textbook, Women and the Law helped to legitimise this area of study and was followed by a growth in courses within UK law faculties on gender and the law. It also provided a basis for legal change over the following thirty years.

Brenda Hale and Susan Atkins

The aim of Women and the Law, published in 1984, was to understand how the law perceived and responded to women. It was the first book in the UK comprehensively to examine the gendered nature of the law itself and the legal inter-relationships between women’s private and public lives and between men and women. It took women’s experiences in life as its starting point, rather than conventional legal categories. We aimed to show how legal doctrine reflected the definition of issues, habits of thought and approaches to finding solutions of men. As we noted in our introduction,

“Our object [was] not to give a biased account of the law but to uncover the extent to which the law itself is biased towards a particular view of life. Even today that view can readily be recognised as one reflected in male rather than female eyes” (p 1).

The full version of this landmark was written by Brenda Hale and Susan Atkins.


Learn More

Parliament, ‘Women in Parliament and Government’ (House of Commons Library: Research Briefings, 6 February 2018) https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN01250#fullreport

Parliament, ‘Women Members of Parliament: Background Paper’ (House of Commons Library: Research Briefings, 18 January 2018) https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06652

Parliament, ‘Women Members of Parliament: Background Paper’ (House of Commons Library: Research Briefings, 16 June 2017) https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06651

Parliament, ‘All-Women Shortlists’ (House of Commons Library: Research Briefings, 7 March 2016) https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN05057

Rosemary Hunter, ‘A Conversation with Baroness Hale’ Feminist Legal Studies (2008) (Kent Academic Repository) https://kar.kent.ac.uk/23864/1/Hale-Hunter_interview.pdf