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On Gender Equality Day Penn Law’s Global Affairs Blog launches a new series to mark the 98th anniversary of the 19th Amendment

August 26, 2018

Through student conversations, the new blog series will serve as a platform to advance knowledge about gender through the voices of emerging women leaders at Penn Law. Starting out with a conversation between two women leaders of Penn Law, Leah Wong and Teresa Akkara, both trailblazing women of their generation, these conversations will recognize what the movement for the 19th Amendment did not:  that gender intersects with other axes of inequality, such as race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, religion, age, and nationality and can help cross-fertilize ideas across cultural and other divides.

The movement for the 19th Amendment left out the voices of women of color. It wasn’t until 1943 that Chinese Americans were first permitted to become citizens.  For Filipinos, it wasn’t until 1946; for Japanese Americans and other Asian Americans, this did not come until 1952.  

The conversation with Leah and Teresa is followed by a conversation with Shane Fischman and Allyson Reynolds. Allyson has deep family roots in the Philippines and Shane in Israel. 

We also feature Radhika Saxena’s thoughts on the Indian #MeToo movement which reveal how in an interconnected age, ideas travel and find expression in different ways in different parts of the world. The ferment in Indian academic circles on the #MeToo movement was sparked last year by an Indian LLM student much like Radhika. 

Against the backdrop of current Penn Law students, we examine the narratives of Penn Law women who are making a difference in the world. Sophie L’Helias used her own experiences of butting against the glass ceiling at companies that purported to have diversity plans in place to develop a gender diversity index of women in C- Suites which goes beyond the data to measure real results against the stated goals of the diversity plans.

We will also spotlight conversations with Penn Law students and speakers on contemporary movements on gender and diversity.  For example, these conversations will feature Meena Harris on technology-related gender equality strategies and Ally Coll Steele of the Purple Campaign on the US MeToo movement’s potential for transforming business. This will be followed by Brande Stellings, the Senior Vice President of Catalyst who advised Fortune 500 companies on the creation of business- driven inclusive strategies for women in leadership; Carolyn Edgar, Senior Vice President and Managing Counsel of BNY Mellon who speaks on the Emotional Tax on Women of Color; and Marissa Wesley, who retired as partner of Simpson Thacher to start Win- Win Strategies  to connect women’s funds with the power of business. Spanning different generations, all five women lawyers have researched and informed research on women and intersectionality in the legal profession.

The goal for these Penn Law conversations and stories is to promote deeper thinking about the relationship between gender and power, and the responsibility of women’s leadership to make a difference for all women of the world.