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Feminist legal champion celebrated by Welsh national academy

12 December 2022

Dr Sharon Thompson accepts the Dillwyn Award at the Learned Society of Wales Medal Ceremony. Photo credit: Learned Society of Wales.
Dr Sharon Thompson accepts the Dillwyn Award at the Learned Society of Wales Medal Ceremony. Photo credit: Learned Society of Wales.

A School of Law and Politics academic has been celebrated by Wales’s national academy for arts and sciences.

Dr Sharon Thompson was presented with a Dillwyn Medal this November at the Learned Society of Wales Medal Ceremony. The society brings together experts from across all academic fields and uses collective knowledge to promote research, inspire learning, and provide independent policy advice.

The Dillwyn Medal is presented to outstanding early career researchers in Wales and this year Dr Thompson was the  recipient for the medal in Humanities and Creative Arts.

Dr Thompson attracted the attention of the society for her work on family law, feminist legal theory and legal history. She joined the school in 2015, having previously been a Lecturer at Keele University and a Visiting Fellow in 2014 at City University Hong Kong. Having built an international reputation, Dr Thompson is renowned for her work on prenuptial agreements however she also researches the areas of divorce, family property and mid-twentieth century legal history, with a particular focus on feminist perspectives.

Most recently Dr Thompson has published a book and launched a podcast of the same name, Quiet Revolutionaries, about the Married Women’s Association, a forgotten group of  mid-twentieth century feminist trailblazers who sought to change the legal rights of housewives. Dr Thompson was a legal advisor to Welsh TV series, Pobol y Cwm and most recently appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

Speaking of her award, Dr Thompson said, “It is an incredible and unexpected honour to be awarded the Dillwyn Medal. I am thrilled to have my work recognised so generously by the Learned Society of Wales. I am also extremely grateful to my Cardiff colleagues Professors Russell Sandberg, Ambreena Manji and Norman Doe for nominating me, and to my colleagues and collaborators for all their support and guidance over the years.

Throughout my career, the focus of my research has been to challenge assumptions and stereotypes about women and the law, from exposing power dynamics in prenuptial agreements and questioning the meaning and implications of the ‘gold digger’, to re-examining family law history through a feminist lens to uncover new perspectives on how law is reformed.

It means a great deal to have been awarded this medal, as I believe that it is more important than ever to uncover the gendered power dimensions at the heart of family relationships. With equality and access to justice becoming increasingly elusive for large parts of society, now is the time to think about new solutions for reform.”

Dr Thompson is module leader for Family Law and joint module leader for Legal History at the School of Law and Politics.

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