Nadine Strossen: Are there enough women in the legal profession?

Nadine Strossen has written, lectured, and practiced extensively in the areas of constitutional law, civil liberties, and international human rights. From 1991 through 2008 she served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization. Professor Strossen retains leadership positions with the ACLU as a member of its National Advisory Council and Co-Chair of its Campaign for the Future.

The National Law Journal has twice named Professor Strossen one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.” In 1996, Working Woman Magazine listed her among the “350 Women Who Changed the World 1976–1996.” In 1997, Upside Magazine included her in the “Elite 100: 100 Executives Leading The Digital Revolution.” In 1998, Vanity Fair Magazine included Professor Strossen in “America’s 200 Most Influential Women.” In 1999, Ladies’ Home Journal included her in “America’s 100 Most Important Women.” In 2005, Professor Strossen was honored by the University of Tulsa College of Law and the Tulsa Law Review, which made her scholarly work the subject of their Fifth Annual Legal Scholarship Symposium titled “Nadine Strossen: Scholar as Activist.”

Professor Strossen’s writings have been published in many scholarly and general interest publications (more than 250 published works). Her book, Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women’s Rights (Scribner, 1995), was named by The New York Times as a “Notable Book” of 1995 and was republished in 2000 by NYU Press, with a new introduction by the author. Her coauthored book, Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties (NYU Press, 1995), was named an “outstanding book” by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America.

Professor Strossen graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College (1972) and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School (1975), where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Before becoming a law professor, she practiced law for nine years in Minneapolis (her hometown) and New York City.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Nadine Strossen: The numbers are very high, but the distribution is very skewed as is true in other prestigious professions. In law schools now, I believe that in most schools and across the law student population, generally women are at least 50% of the student body, if not higher. We are also so well represented at the faculty level that I lose count and that is great. When you no longer have to count as opposed to my seven years of higher education at Harvard college and law school where I had not a single female professor at either the law school or the college and I was painfully aware of the number of female students in both places. I went to Harvard college when women students were separately admitted under a strict 4:1 ratio, men to women and at the law school at the time, we were about 10% of the student body. So, that has changed dramatically. A lot of barriers have been crashed. It was not until 1981 that we had the first female supreme court justice, but those numbers are still very small and Justice Ginsburg[Phonetic] is now complaining with force and reason about being the token female member of the supreme court and we know the judges and I would say in politics women are particularly underrepresented, in the corporate world, particularly underrepresented. I think we are doing quite well on law faculties and as law school deans.

 

Recorded On: 2/14/08


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