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Lawyers Club of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome. Guidelines for writers may be found on the Leadership Resources page.

 

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The Color of Justice: "The Hidden Story of the 2016 Election: Rise of Women of Color in Government"

Posted By Shanly Hopkins, Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Hidden Story of the 2016 Election: Rise of Women of Color in Government


When I think about what this election cycle has meant for women of color, anger and fear are two of the predominate words that come to mind and the representation of women in government stayed about the same. However, one story has lingered in the shadows, and is a small beacon of hope in these troubling times: After the 2016 election, a record number of women of color will be serving in Congress.


The next Congress will include 38 total congresswomen of color, including 35 Democrats and 3 Republicans. Three new democratic women of color were elected to the Senate: Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, and Kamala Harris in California. All of these new members of Congress are notable trailblazers. Catherine Cortez Masto, won the open Nevada Senate seat vacated by Harry Reid and she will be the first Latina senator. Kamala Harris will be the first Indian-American and second African-American woman to serve in the Senate.


Several women of color were also elected to the House. Stephanie Murphy won her seat in the House by beating 12-term GOP incumbent Rep. John L. Mica in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Stephanie Murphy will be the first Vietnamese-American female member of Congress. Lisa Blunt Rochester will be not only the first African-American woman to serve in Congress from Delaware, but will also be the first woman to ever serve in Congress from Delaware. Lisa Blunt Rochester was also Delaware’s first African-American female state labor secretary.


Val Demings, who was the first African-American woman to serve as police chief of Orlando, won her congressional race in Florida. In Washington State, Pramila Jayapal, who is Indian-American, won an open congressional seat. New Hampshire will continue to be represented by an all-female congressional delegation. Rep. Mia Love, who was the first African-American female Republican in Congress, was reelected in Utah. Republican U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was the first Latina elected to Congress, also won reelection.


Another remarkable victory for women of color came from a Minnesota state legislative race, where Democrats elected the first Somali-American lawmaker, Ilhan Omar. Additionally, in Kentucky, Attica Scott became the state’s first African-American female legislator in 20 years. Native Americans were also well represented in this election, with over 40 being elected in state legislative races across the country. Namely, Affie Ellis became the first Native-American woman elected to the Wyoming Legislature. In this election, Nevada Democrats also put up an all-female ballot in a suburb of Las Vegas, right down to the county commissioner.


These victories are a bright spot for women of color in an otherwise dark election. Although we should celebrate these victories, we must still be cognizant of the current climate for women in government. Women are still vastly underrepresented in politics. After this election, women still make up just under 20 percent of Congress, yet represent half of the U.S. population.


Although this election has shown that change is possible for women of color, these changes are moving much too slowly. To win more races, women need to run more. Although Hillary Clinton’s loss will have a lasting effect on women in politics, we cannot let it discourage other women from jumping in and running for office. In 2016, women’s representation in government did not make a large change, but the women who did win are more diverse than ever, and we should use that as motivation to deal with the challenges that will surely come.


Shanly Hopkins is a business and real estate attorney with Aguirre Allen Law, and co-chair of the Professional Advancement Committee.

Tags:  Affie Ellis  Attica Scott  Catherine Cortez Masto  congress  election  house of representatives  Ilhan Omar  Kamala Harris  LCB  Lisa Blunt Rochester  Mia Love  minorities  Pramila Jayapal  senate  Stephanie Murphy  Tammy Duckworth  the color of justice  Val Demings  women of color 

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Chasing the Last Wave: "Notorious RBG to the Rescue!"

Posted By Molly T. Tami , Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Notorious RBG to the Rescue!

 

Like many of you, I’m feeling disheartened these days by all the negative news and nasty rhetoric out there, particularly as it relates to women and our place in society. The founding mothers of feminism must surely be rolling in their graves just as we modern day feminists are shocked by what we are witnessing in the presidential election campaign. Need I say more? And at work, my inbox fills with article after article about gender disparity in pay at law firms, women’s underrepresentation in the legal ranks, sexual harassment claims in the legal academy, and so forth. No wonder many women feel discouraged these days, even women in the legal profession who arguably yield great influence and power over their own circumstances and fate.   

 

In the midst of all this bad news and gloom, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Notorious RBG!) came to my rescue. I’ve watched several recent interviews with Justice Ginsburg as she promotes her new book, My Own Words, and I just read her recent New York Times essay entitled Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Advice for Living, adapted from that book. Justice Ginsburg’s personal story inspires me and demonstrates the great progress women have made in the legal profession. But what she shared in the interviews and in the essay about her “supersmart, exuberant, ever-loving spouse,” Marty Ginsburg, struck me the most. “And I betray no secret in reporting that, without him, I would not have gained a seat on the Supreme Court,” she writes. Marty Ginsburg secured the support of her home state senator and members of the legal academy and practicing bar to make her nomination happen. It’s apparent that marrying Marty was one of the best decisions of Justice Ginsburg’s personal and professional life.

 

We’ve all heard it said that behind every successful man is a great woman. In the old days, that was generally true. While I don’t subscribe to the notion that every successful professional woman needs a man (or partner) behind her, I firmly believe that for women who decide to marry, choosing the “right” partner is the most critical decision for both personal and career success. I hope many women reading this have chosen well or will heed this advice when contemplating marriage/partnership in the future. And to the many supportive male members of the Lawyers Club, I thank you for being our allies, advocates and in many cases, that “right” partner. 

 

I leave you with the closing paragraph of Justice Ginsburg’s essay, and I thank her for rescuing me and inspiring us all to continue chasing the last wave. 

 

Earlier, I spoke of great changes I have seen in women’s occupations. Yet one must acknowledge the still bleak part of the picture. Most people in poverty in the United States and the world over are women and children, women’s earnings here and abroad trail the earnings of men with comparable education and experience, our workplaces do not adequately accommodate the demands of childbearing and child rearing, and we have yet to devise effective ways to ward off sexual harassment at work and domestic violence in our homes. I am optimistic, however, that movement toward enlistment of the talent of all who compose “We, the people,” will continue.

 

Molly Tami serves as the Assistant Dean for Career & Professional Development at USD School of Law. She previously designed and taught a course on Law, Gender and the Work/Family Conflict and is passionate about advancing women in the legal profession.               

Tags:  Chasing the Last Wave  election  feminism  feminist  gender  Justice Ginsburg  LCB  legal profession  marriage  partner  sexual harassment  spouse  Supreme Court  women 

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