Dr Merle Thornton AM

Honorary Associate Professor

School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


Merle Thornton is a feminist activist; in March 1965 she chained herself, with friend Ro Bogner, to the bar rail of the Regatta Hotel protesting against the exclusion of women from public bars, by iron custom throughout Australia, by law in Queensland. This protest initiated second wave feminist activism.

Then Merle organised creation of the Equal Opportunities for Women Association, and as President led the successful campaign to remove the ‘marriage bar’ from career public service in the Commonwealth Public Service (1965-66). The end of the marriage bar and the first legislation of maternity leave came in 1966.

Research Interests

  • Philosophy and politics of the advancement of women
  • Aboriginal thought; school education of Aboriginals
  • Sentence reference (basic language and math functions)