The final match-up of Round 2 of our Women’s History Month March Madness contest features Ada Kepley and Elena Kagan. Let us know which woman inspires you the most by participating in our daily Twitter or Facebook poll, or by casting a vote at the Circulation Desk. Happy voting!
Ada Kepley-“It seems I was the first woman to graduate from a law school in the world, and in addition, America, which boasted to the rest of the world to be “the land of the free and home of the brave,” gave no freedom to her women…”
Ada Kepley was trained as her husband’s legal assistant, but wished to obtain her own law career. She graduated from Union College of Law (Northwestern) in 1870 but was denied access to the bar. Her husband then helped write and pass a bill to prevent sexual discrimination in any field in Illinois, including the legal field in 1872. Ada Kepley did not reapply for the bar until 1881, largely because she was focused into temperance reform. Ada left a lasting legacy promoting women’s rights in both the legal world and in the political world.
Elena Kagan-“I have no regrets. I don’t believe in looking back. What I am proudest of? Working really hard… and achieving as much as I could.”
Elena was born to a family of academics and lawyers in New York. From a young age, Elena showed an exceptional mind and the ability to successfully use that mind to change other people’s opinions for the better. Because she was Jewish, Elena advocated for her bat mitzvah to be held in the synagogue much like a bar mitzvah would which went against the current tradition of her synagogue. However, she was able to convince her rabbi to honor her requests and the synagogue continued to hold bat mitzvahs in the building afterwards. Elena graduated from Princeton and then from Harvard Law, and clerked for the Supreme Court before entering private practice. Not long after, Elena entered academia and became a law professor and then the Dean of Harvard Law, the first female to hold that position. She spent her time as Dean making the school more student friendly and centered on the students’ well being. After being a finalist for the position of President of Harvard University, she was nominated by President Obama to be the first Female U.S Solicitor General and in 2010 was nominated as a Supreme Court Justice.
Disclaimer: This is a friendly competition that is meant to increase awareness about some amazing women. The match ups were determined by a random outcome generator, and the winner will be determined based solely on the votes submitted by the participants. We are in no way seeking to pit one woman against each other in any inappropriate way, because each woman is inspiring in her own right.