Michael Kirby on Stereotypes and Sports

The former High Court judge Michael Kirby feels most comfortable in a suit and tie when he's out and about. He was therefore not too happy with the way he was treated at the hip TED (Technology, Education and Design) conference in Redfern. Speaking at the fifth conference of the International Working Group on Women and Sport at Olympic Park yesterday, Kirby (who also spoke witheringly of Channel Seven's ''pathetic and disgraceful'' treatment of David Campbell) got on to the subject of conquering stereotypes and gave his experience at TED the day before as an example of what he wanted to see abolished. He said of the TED concept: ''It's a very American idea that you've got to have these very intense young people who get together and they talk, but you are only allowed to talk for 15 minutes - which, of course, for a lawyer is an extremely difficult thing, to only speak for 15 minutes. I turned up dressed, as I've always dressed, in a suit and a tie. And they told me, 'You're not supposed to do that', and they said, 'This is breaching all the rules of TED', and they reprimanded me at the end of my speech, so I said, 'I'll bloody well turn up in whatever dress I like and we must end stereotypes'. This is one of the challenges [that] has to be faced in the area of women's sport, that is, stereotypes.'' Recent controversy in women's football over Muslim women wearing head scarves reminded sporting authorities that they needed to be respectful of the cultural needs of female Muslim athletes, Kirby said.