March 12, 2016
Using the Australian case as illustrative, this article revolves around the construction of merit, the lynchpin of the gender regime within the prevailing legal academy. Far from being a neutral concept in which “the best person for the job ” is appointed according to individual worth, it is argued that merit is an ideologically laden term which obscures a preference for masculinity. It is nevertheless not static and unchanging for its neutral carapace enables it to adapt to the prevailing context and accommodate new norms. Hence, just when the legal academy was on the cusp of feminisation, with women comprising approximately 56% of all legal academics, the neoliberal turn and the corporatisation of universities has given masculinity an adrenalin shot in the arm. Through an overview of the key academic criteria of teaching, research and service, it is argued that the casualisation of teaching, research entrepreneurialism and top-down managerialism have contributed to a reconfiguration of the gender regime.