The 25th Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia – and the first woman to hold the position – Quentin Bryce has not only made a career out of advocating the rights of women, but as former Principal of the University of Sydney’s Women’s College, has also had a lasting impact on the lives of hundreds of young women who resided there under her leadership.
Graduating from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws, Bryce was admitted to the Queensland Bar in 1965: one of the first women to be admitted to this jurisdiction. She became integral in the evolution of human rights law in Australia, seeking the abolition of discriminatory practices as the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner from 1988 to 1993. Following this, Bryce was appointed the founding Chair and CEO of the National Childcare Accreditation Council, tasked with establishing Australian standards in the childcare industry.
In 1997, Bryce came to the University of Sydney as principal of the Women’s College to lend her expertise as a role model for young women. During the seven-year period for which she held this position, Bryce was appointed as a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition for her contribution to ensuring the rights of women and children throughout her career.
Bryce returned to the College in 2007 to present the Louisa McDonald Oration, using the words of Australian scholar and author, Jill Ker Conway, to describe how she felt about her years at the University: “the places and people that give our lives an aura of magic potential”. An honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University was conferred upon Bryce in 2010.