March Madness, Quarterfinals (3/25/2018) — Michelle Obama v. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Women’s History Month March Madness contest enters the Quarterfinals this morning, with a clash of the titans: Michelle Obama v. Ruth Bader Ginsburg! You can vote by participating in our daily Twitter or Facebook poll, or by casting a vote at the Circulation Desk.  Happy voting!

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Image via Wikipedia.

Michelle Obama-First African American First Lady of the United States-“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”

Born in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, Michelle was determined from a young age to be a good student, as her father had wanted for her. She attended Chicago’s first magnet school, despite the location being three hours one way from her home. Her hard work in school paid off as Michelle graduated salutatorian and went on to follow her older brother to Princeton University. While there, Michelle worked with the Third World center, an academic and cultural group for African American Students, and published a thesis about African American Princeton Graduates. After graduating cum laude, Michelle went on to earn her law degree from Harvard Law. She continued to advocate for minorities, including participating in demonstrations to fight for the hiring of minority professors.  As First Lady, she campaigned for minority rights, women’s rights and became a well-known advocate for education reform, spurring changes in all of those areas.

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Image via Oyez.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg-“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the only surviving child of two Jewish immigrants and her mother encouraged Justice Ginsburg’s education from a very young age. After marrying and giving birth to her first child, Justice Ginsburg enrolled at Harvard University, where she was immediately introduced to and discouraged by the male views of her gender in the legal profession. After experiencing many forms of gender discrimination personally, including being told she would be paid less as a law professor because she had a husband with a decent job, Justice Ginsburg became one of the most well-known advocates and legal researchers for women’s rights. She argued several times successfully to the all-male Supreme Court of the United States and her successes as a whole discouraged legislatures from treating women and men differently. After serving as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, President Clinton appointed Justice Ginsburg as the second female justice on the Supreme Court and the first female Jewish Justice. Justice Ginsburg used her position to continue the fight for women’s rights, upholding the Roe v. Wade decision and criticizing any legislation or cases that limited the ability of women to make their own decisions.

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.

March Madness, Round 2 (3/24/2018) — Ada Kepley v. Elena Kagan

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!

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Image via Wikipedia.

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.

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Image via Britannica.

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.

March Madness, Round 2 (3/23/2018) — Sarah Weddington v. Eleanor Holmes Norton

Round 2 continues today with a match-up between Sarah Weddington and Eleanor Holmes Norton. Which woman inspires you the most? You can vote by participating in our daily Twitter or Facebook poll, or by casting a vote at the Circulation Desk.  Happy voting!

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Image via Britannica.

Sarah Weddington-“Everyone wants to know they have made a difference…I know I have. I may be tired, but I am not bored.”

Born in Abilene, Texas, Sarah Weddington was constantly involved in school activities before graduating from high school a full two years early. She entered the University of Texas Law School at only 19 and graduated in the top quarter of her class three years later. Despite being a successful student, Sarah had trouble obtaining a job after graduation. She decided to join a group of law graduates that wanted to challenge anti-abortion statutes. Soon after joining, the group was approached by a woman who’d been prevented from having an abortion and wished to sue the district attorney known for enforcing the statute. Because of her own history, having had an illegal abortion years earlier in Mexico, Sarah started researching the case and soon was deep in the Roe v. Wade In 1971 and 1972, Sarah presented the case in front of the Supreme Court of the United States and argued based on many of the Amendments to the Constitution and on privacy decisions made by the Supreme Court previously. In 1973, the Supreme Court overturned the Texas abortion laws and sided in favor of Sarah’s case, making her the youngest person ever to argue successfully to the Supreme Court at only 27 years old. After the Roe v. Wade decision, Sarah was elected to the Texas House of Representatives and was an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Image via Britannica.

Eleanor Holmes Norton-“I defended the First Amendment, and you seldom get to defend the First Amendment by defending people you like … You don’t know whether the First Amendment is alive and well until it is tested by people with despicable ideas. And I loved the idea of looking a racist in the face—remember this was a time when racism was much more alive and well than it is today—and saying, ‘I am your lawyer, sir, what are you going to do about that?”

Daughter of a school teacher and a civil servant, Eleanor got involved in civil rights protests and activism when she was a college student. By the time she’d graduated with her bachelor degree, she’d already been arrested for organizing and participating in sit-ins. She participated in the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project in an attempt to get as many African American’s signed up to vote as possible. While in Yale Law School, she was on the founding board of the Women’s Right’s Law Reporter, which was the first legal journal to focus solely on women’s rights. In 1973, she helped found the National Black Feminist Organization. In 1977, she was appointed the first female chair of the EEOC and while there released the first set of regulations that stated continued sexual harassment was discrimination that violated federal law. In 1990, she was elected to the House of Representatives as a non-voting member representing the District of Columbia, where she is still active. There, she supported the disarming of nuclear missiles and the bill that would make federal expenditures more transparent and accessible. Additionally, she has fought to get D.C. voting rights within the House of Representatives, which eventually succeeded in 2009 but did not affect her position there. While in the House, she has continued her civil rights and female rights work, including publishing articles about feminist rights.

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.

Madness March, Round 2 (3/22/2018) — Eliza “Lyda” Burton Conley v. Catherine Cortez Masto

Today’s Round 2 match-up is between Eliza “Lyda” Burton Conley and Catherine Cortez Masto. Which woman inspires you the most? You can vote by participating in our daily Twitter or Facebook poll, or by casting a vote at the Circulation Desk.  Happy voting!

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Image via Wikipedia.

Eliza “Lyda” Burton Conley-“One hundred thousand dollars would be no inducement whatever in buying my consent to the desecration of the graves of my parents.”

Lyda Conley was the first Native American woman lawyer in the United States when she was admitted to the Missouri State Bar in 1902. She was a member of the Wyandot tribe and best known for her active defense of the Huron Place Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas. The Cemetery was guaranteed by an 1855 treaty because it was the burial grounds for many Wyandot members but Congress approved the sale and removal of the bodies in the Cemetery for commercial use in 1906. Lyda filed suit to stop the sale and she and her sisters guarded the cemetery with weapons constantly. She took her case to the U.S Supreme Court, and was the first person to argue that the government owed protection to the burial grounds of Native Americans. Although the Court ruled against her, the land was never actually sold as there were no buyers willing to take it due to Lyda’s work to turn the public against the sale. Now the land is an historic landmark and Lyda herself is buried there.

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Catherine Marie Cortez-“For most women, running for office starts with a passion for an issue you care about. For me, it’s always been about human rights, domestic-violence prevention, juvenile-justice reform, sexual-assault prevention.”

Catherine was born into a family that encouraged and participated in local politics. Her father was a County Commissioner and also an attorney for a county in Nevada. Additionally, her family had ties with long time senators and the family encouraged Catherine’s education. She received her B.A and J.D before spending time as a civil attorney for Las Vegas and then a criminal prosecutor in Washington D.C. In 2009, she was named Nevada’s Attorney General and she spent that time working to ensure she argued for Nevada’s laws, even when she did not actually agree with them. In 2014, long time Senator from Nevada Harry Reid, who was also a family friend of Catherine’s, endorsed her as his replacement for Senator. Her campaign and subsequent platform in the Senate heavily focuses on renewable energy resources, women’s rights, and pro-choice rhetoric. She took office in January of 2017, becoming the first Latina in the United States Senate.

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.

March Madness, Round 2 (3/21/2018) — Bella Abzug v. Hortense Sparks Ward

Today’s Round 2 match-up features “Battling Bella” Abzug and Hortense Sparks Ward. Which woman inspires you the most? You can vote by participating in our daily Twitter or Facebook poll, or by casting a vote at the Circulation Desk.  Happy voting!

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Image via Wikipedia.

Bella “Battling Bella” Abzug-“A woman’s place is in the House – The House of Representatives.”

From a very young age, Bella was extremely competitive and would consistently beat other children in different competitions. She defied her Jewish Synagogue by performing a mourning prayer every day for a year after her father passed away despite the prayer being traditionally held only for the sons of the deceased. She was class president of her high school and obtained admission to the bar in the 1940s, a time when there were very few women lawyers. She openly fought for Women’s rights and equality; years before her actual election to the House of Representatives, she was placed on Nixon’s infamous master list of political opponents. She beat a 14-year incumbent for her spot in the United States House of Representatives, earning the nickname “Battling Bella.” After her district was eliminated because of redistricting, she ran again and again beat an incumbent for the position. She was one of the first members to openly support legislation for gay rights by introducing the Equality Act of 1974. She attempted to run for the United States Senate, but lost by less than one percent, despite the fact that the media did not once cover her campaign and only spoke about the male candidates. She continued to advocate for women’s rights throughout the rest of her life, coining the popular phrase, “A woman’s place is in the House – The House of Representatives.” She spoke before the United Nations and traveled the world fighting for women until her death. She was very well-known for wearing vibrant hats, but constantly told people, “it’s what’s under the hats that count!” A year before her death, Battling Bella won the Blue Beret Peacekeepers Award, which is the highest civilian honor that the United Nations can award.

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Hortense Sparks Ward-“When a woman in Texas marries today, her husband has the sole management of all her separate property and of all her interest in the community property … He may even mortgage or sell every piece of furniture in the home, and she is helpless to prevent, even if her earnings have paid for every piece. He has a right to sell her dresses if he sees fit, and she cannot prevent…”

After working as a court reporter for a time, Hortense married an attorney and then became the first woman to pass the Texas State Bar in 1910. Afterwards, she worked with her husband but did mostly background work due to the response of all male juries. Hortense was an avid advocate for women’s rights and led campaigns that resulted in women being able to vote in the Texas primary elections. In 1925, when virtually all qualified male lawyers in Texas had to recuse themselves from a case due to personal connection with the parties, Hortense was named Chief Justice in a special Texas Supreme Court made up of her and two other female lawyers.

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.