A story on All Blacks who are/were lawyers might set the hearts of half your readership thumping and even allow them to spend a six-minute unit or two dreaming of swapping their pinstripes for a pair of studded rugby boots, but spare a thought for the 50% of lawyers who aren’t blokes. Yes, I’m talking about all the women lawyers out there who are also/have been athletes. Where are they? Let’s find them and devote as many column inches to their dual achievements as you have to the chaps.
So I’m looking forward to a follow-up story about all the women lawyers who have represented New Zealand across a range of sports given you can’t do a story about women lawyers who are All Blacks because the NZ Rugby Union are yet to drag themselves, mauling and rucking into the 21st Century and ‘allow’ women to be full All Blacks too – with all the status, opportunity and yes the tidy pile of money that finds its way into the bank accounts of male professional rugby players.
It’s pointless running endless articles on unconscious bias when the editorial decisions which led to the All Black story demonstrate the bias is alive and well — in the newsroom at LawTalk.
LawTalk Managing Editor Geoff Adlam replies:
Ms McNaught’s points are accepted. I’ll point to myself as the author of the lawyer All Blacks story. My worry about missing someone out (which was realised) was equally matched by a feeling of unease over the fact that half of New Zealand’s lawyers were ineligible and concern at how this could be received. The possibility of bias did come to mind. However, the achievement of those lawyers who were All Blacks should still be celebrated and I decided there was no reason not to publish the story, as long as we also took steps to recognise the contribution made by women lawyers to New Zealand sport. As soon as the All Black article went off to print we started researching lawyer participation in other sports, and the results for our netball research can be found in Tail End on page 90 (download PDF of LawTalk print version).