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Burton, Clare (1942 - 1998)

30 October 1942
23 August 1998
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Researcher, Public servant, Academic, Consultant and Writer


Dr Clare Burton was a strong advocate and activist for social change, particularly in the area of equal pay for women. Her academic research fed into policy and practical change in the workplace.


Clare Burton was raised in Canberra, where her Methodist upbringing may have instilled in her the tireless work ethic she displayed in her efforts to bring about social change, promoting greater equity and justice for all.

Burton graduated from the University of Sydney with a university medal and first class honours in anthropology in 1963. She married Peter Krinks and the pair had three children: Rachel, Stephen and Kate. She completed her PhD at Macquarie University in 1979, exploring theoretical explanations for women's subordination, and began her academic career at Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education (later University of Technology, Sydney), where she became an Associate Professor.

Burton was awarded the Australasian Political Studies Association Women and Politics Prize in 1984 for her essay 'Public and Private Concerns in Academic Institutions'. Her monograph Redefining Merit became an essential companion text for practitioners of employment equity. Major publications include The Promise and the Price: the struggle for equal opportunity in women's employment (1991), Subordination, Feminism and Social Theory (1985) and Women's Worth : pay equity and job evaluation in Australia (1987).

In 1989 Burton became the New South Wales government's Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment, and in 1992 served as the Commissioner for Public Sector Equity in the Queensland Goss government. In 1993, she chose to work independently as a researcher and consultant in employment equity, being much in demand as a consultant, adviser, and speaker. In the 1990s Burton conducted about a dozen university equity reviews as well as reviewing both the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces. She was a dedicated member of the Women's Electoral Lobby (WEL) and worked on WEL submissions on the 1997 Federal Public Service Bill and the 1998 review of the Affirmative Action Agency. She also convened WEL policy groups.

Burton was a member of the Network of Women in Further Education, the Black Women's Action in Education Foundation, the National Foundation for Australian Women, the Australian Political Science Association, the Australian Sociological Association and the Institute of Public Administration Australia, and was a founding member of the National Pay Equity Coalition.

The Australian Technology Network, with Clare's friends, colleagues and family has established the Clare Burton Memorial Fund to commemorate her life and continue her work by providing a scholarship in Dr Burton's specialist field.

Sources used to compile this entry: From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra, Australian Women's Archives Project, February 2013,; 'Tributes to Clare Burton', by Marian Sawer and Philippa Hall, edited versions from obituaries originally published in The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald, published online at No longer available, try the Wayback Machine (Internet Archive).

Related entries

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room

  • Biographical cuttings on Clare Burton, public servant, BIOG; National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details

Clare Land

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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