Gender and Law

Over recent years we have developed notable expertise in feminist and gender theory.  Professor Joanne Conaghan is well known in the field, and is working closely with a team of academics to answer questions about the role of gender in families and society, in the workplace, in medicine, in history and more to expand this area of work.


Dr Foluke Adebisi’s research examines the postcolonial nature of law, tracing connections between race and global structural disparities resulting from the enduring legacy of postcolonial law. European law (as inherited and/or adopted) has a long history of dispossession and separation. This history lives on in themes of globalisation and development and we run the risk of entrenching, reiterating and reproducing dominant epistemologies in our use and study of law. Foluke's focuses particularly on how these disparities reproduce themselves within law and legal education, and especially how women of colour are affected by this. Intersectionality and misogynoir are particularly important to our understanding of how postcoloniality impacts the lived experiences of black women.

Dr Shreya Atrey joined the University of Bristol Law School as a Lecturer in 2017. Her research is on discrimination law and human rights. In particular, she works on intersectionality theory, gender inequality, disability law, poverty, and socio-economic rights. Her most recent work shows how post-colonial, intersectional and third world feminisms may be ignored in the accounts of both marginalisation and progress of the women’s movement. (‘Women’s Human Rights: From Progress to Transformation - An Intersectional Response to Nussbaum’) [Human Rights Quarterly, forthcoming].

Dr Katie Bales is a lecturer in constitutional rights, public law and employment law at Bristol Law School. Her research examines intersectional discrimination and the ways in which asylum policies, particularly those related to work and welfare, fail to account for the diverse and intersectional nature of asylum seekers.

Professor Lois Bibbings's research focuses upon law, gender and history. She has written about (non)violence, sexuality and the body as well as widening participation policy in education. An interest in men, masculinities and history is reflected in her work on conscientious objectors to military service. This was the subject of her first monograph Telling Tales About Men: Conceptions of Conscientious Objectors to Military Service During the First World War (Manchester, 2009). Her second monograph, Binding Men: Stories about Violence and Law in Late Victorian England (Routledge, 2014) focuses on five late nineteenth century legal cases involving different forms of male violence (child abuse, prize fighting, murder and cannibalism, sexual assault and 'wife torture'). She is currently working on articles and a book on WW1 as well as researching the suffragette movement.

Professor Joanne Conaghan was the previous Head of School at Bristol Law School, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and an internationally recognised expert on gender, feminism, and law. Her most recent book, Law and Gender (OUP, 2013) was published in the prestigious Clarendon Law series and she is the author of several other books and many articles on feminism, tort and labour law. Her inaugural professorial address in the Wills Memorial Building on 19 February 2015 entitled ‘Civil Liability: Addressing Police Failures in the Context of Rape, Domestic and Sexual Abuse’ can be viewed here.

Dr Katie Cruz  joined the law school in August 2016. Her research focuses on demands for civil and labour rights and critiques of anti-trafficking policy and immigration law being made by sex worker rights activists in the UK. Her published research has focused on the relationship between the commodification of sexual services, the limits of labour rights, and the necessity of broader social welfare protections, including a basic income. Beginning from the observation that sex work scholarship and activism tends to normalise migrant sex work that falls short of the trafficking threshold as free, consensual and voluntary, Dr Cruz is currently writing an article that theorises trafficking and migrant sex work from a Marxist and feminist political economy perspective on hyper-precarity and labour unfreedom. Building on this research, she is co-authoring (with Dr Kate Hardy, Leeds Business School) an article that theorises exploitation in different sexual labour markets through a Marxist feminist framework. In each of these works in progress she focuses on how legal relations co-constitute unfreedom, precarity and exploitation. More broadly, she has a keen interest in current debates in feminist legal and political theory. She will co-author a paper with Dr Yvette Russell that critiques the so-called critique of "governance feminism". Katie sits on the editorial board of Feminist Legal Studies.

Peter Dunne is a lecturer in law at University of Bristol Law School. His scholarship focuses broadly on family law, European law, and human rights. Peter has a particular interest in gender, sexuality and law. His doctoral research considered the relationship between human rights and conditions for obtaining legal gender recognition. Peter regularly publishes in leading peer-reviewed journals, including the Child and Family Law Quarterly, Medical Law Review, Social and Legal Studies, Public Law and Common Market Law Review. With Dr Lynsey Black (University College Dublin), he is co-editor of Law and Gender in Ireland: Critique and Reform (Hart, 2018). In addition, with Dr Senthorun Raj (Keele University), Peter is co-editor of The Queer Outside in Law: Recognising LGBTIQ People in the United Kingdom (Palgrave, 2019). Prior to entering academia, Peter worked as a human rights advocate in the United States and Europe. He maintains strong links with civil society organisations in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Peter has presented evidence before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, and his work has been referenced by numerous public bodies, including the Equality Authority of Ireland and the Hong Kong Inter-Departmental Working Group on Gender Recognition. In 2015, Peter was invited to provide evidence to the UK Parliamentary Inquiry on Transgender Equality. Peter’s research was cited extensively in the Inquiry’s 2016 Report to the UK Government. With Dr Marjolein van den Brink (Utrecht), Peter is currently undertaking EU-funded research into the status of trans and intersex persons in Europe.

Dr Sheelagh McGuinness  has wide-ranging interests in health law and policy, particularly the regulation of reproduction and reproductive justice. Recent publications include ‘Abortion Law Reform in Ireland: A Model for Change’ Feminists@law; (with Enright, M, Conway, V, DeLondras, F, Donnelly, M, Fletcher, R, McDonnell, N, Murray, C, Ring, S & UiChonnachtaigh, S) ‘Medicine and abortion law: complicating the reforming profession’ (with Thomson M) (2015) 23 Medical Law Review 177-99; ‘A guerrilla strategy for a pro life England’ (2015) 2 Law Innovation and Technology 1-32. Sheelagh sits on The UK Biobank Ethics and Governance Council (2011 – Present) and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service Research Ethics Committee (2016-Present). Her editorial roles include being a member of the editorial board of Feminist Legal Studies and the steering committee for The Ethical Judgments Project. Sheelagh is a co-investigator on an ESRC funded projected entitled “Death before Birth: Understanding, informing and supporting the choices made by people who have experienced miscarriage, termination, and stillbirth” and she has continued research interests in the regulation of abortion. Sheelagh is co-lead of a new £1.5 million Wellcome Trust grant in which she and colleagues will look at will explore the healthcare decisions made in the “best interests” of patients who are unable to make decisions for themselves because they lack mental capacity or competence.  Sheelagh sits on the editorial board of Feminist Legal Studies.

Dr Jule Mulder is engaged in research and has published in the fields of European, international and comparative gender equality law. She is particularly interested in the dialogue between the Court of Justice of the EU and the national courts of the EU Member States and, more precisely, in how this dialogue can positively support substantive gender equality in the diverse national cultural contexts of the Member States. Her monograph, EU Non-Discrimination Law in the Courts (Hart, 2017) takes a critical comparative approach to the analysis of national and European influences on the national courts' application of EU non-discrimination law.

Professor Tonia Novitz teaches and researches in the field of labour law and social policy. She has also supervised doctoral research in the field of gender and law, particularly in the field of equal pay. Her past research includes a publication for the Law, Race and Gender unit at the University of Cape Town on The Prevention of Family Violence Act 1993 which was cited by the South African Law Commission (1996) and is available here.  Recent research has included work on domestic work, including an article with Dr Phil Syrpis entitled ‘The Place of Domestic Work in Europe' (2015) 6(2) European Labour Law Journal 104 - 127.

Roseanne Russell is a lecturer in law whose research focuses on labour law, corporate governance and gender equality. Her work to date has focussed on women’s treatment, progression and representation within the corporate workplace. Her latest publication explores corporate governance and transnational business feminism, to be published in Creating Corporate Sustainability: Gender as an Agent for Change (2018, Cambridge University Press). She is currently working on two research projects: the first explores unconscious bias and whether the law should provide a remedy for the harms it causes, the second examines multi-national companies and their engagement in gender empowerment projects.

Dr Yvette Russell’s research intersects the areas of criminal law and feminist philosophy.  Her principle research interest is the law of rape in the UK, and her current project is a multidisciplinary analysis of legal discourse in and around the rape trial.  Her research and teaching focuses on the theoretical elements of feminist scholarship, and in particular French poststructuralist and queer theories, as well as critical race approaches.  Dr Russell is a Co-ordinating Editor of the international law journal Feminist Legal Studies.

Dr Gwen Seabourne researches in the area of legal history, with a special interest in medieval women’s legal history. Her work has included studies on economic laws, the law of suicide, rape and ravishment, the imprisonment of women, women and Magna Carta, of drug-assisted rape in the thirteenth century, of medieval legal humour (including misogynist humour) and she is working on a book on women in the medieval common law. She is on the committee of the Welsh Legal History Society and is convenor of the Legal History section of the Society of Legal Scholars.

Professor Charlotte Villiers is a qualified solicitor and a scholar of company and corporate law. She is the author of European Company Law - Towards Democracy (Ashgate, 1998) and Corporate Reporting and Company Law (CUP, 2006).  Her current research sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council concerns female participation in company boards.

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