Women's History Month

Celebrating Women's History Month

This Women’s History Month, WWCDA honors the women who came before us and conquered unimaginable challenges to ensure that all women have an equal opportunity to participate, advance, and thrive in society. We especially want to recognize the three trailblazers below. 

Arabella Mansfield

“[Her Iowa bar examination gave] the very best rebuke possible to the imputation that ladies cannot qualify for the practice of law.”

Arabella Mansfield became the first woman lawyer in the United States in 1869, when she was admitted to the Iowa bar after successfully challenging the state’s exclusionary law. She spent her career in academia, as a college educator and administrator. Mansfield was also active in the women’s suffrage movement, working with Susan B. Anthony to advance the cause.

The Diversity Lab’s “Mansfield Rule,” a tribute to Mansfield, measures whether law firms have affirmatively considered at least 30% of their lawyers who are women, people of color, LGBTQ+, and disabled for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions.

Shirley Chisholm

“I want to be remembered as a woman … who dared to be a catalyst of change.”

Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman in Congress (1968) and the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties (1972).

In 1964, Chisholm ran for and became the second African American in the New York State Legislature; and, in 1968, Chisholm won a seat in Congress, where she championed racial and gender equality and the plight of the poor.

Despite facing many challenges in seeking the 1972 Democratic Party presidential nomination, Chisholm entered 12 primaries and garnered 152 of the delegates’ votes (10% of the total).

Sandra Day O'Connor

“The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender.”

Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, a position she held from 1981 until her retirement in 2006. O’Connor was one of the few swing votes on the Court. She tended to analyze each case narrowly, issuing meticulously researched and case-specific rulings.

Justice O’Connor was also the first female majority leader of a state senate as the Republican leader in the Arizona Senate. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.