Wednesday, Novemeber 28, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 67


 
 









 

Estrich: Gender inequalities remain

By Melissa Kummer
Daily Cougar Staff

More than three decades after the feminist movement began, women still have not achieved equality with men at the highest levels of power, author
and law professor Susan Estrich said in a Tuesday night speech at Rice University.


Johnny Kow/The Daily Cougar


University of Southern California law professor Susan Estrich discusses the effect of feminism on American society in a Tuesday speech at Rice
University.


The speech, titled "How Feminism Has Changed Everything and Nothing," was part of the university's 2001-02 President's Lecture Series, open free of
charge to Rice students and the general public.

Estrich is a law professor at the University of Southern California who has made many landmarks for women.

She was the first woman to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review and became the first woman ever to head a national presidential campaign,
that of Michael Dukakis during the 1988 election.

Her speech focused on the issues of discrimination, motherhood and ambition for women.

"Whether it's in academics, a law firm or corporate America, there is an unconscious discrimination," she said.

The equality that many people believe in is only present at the bottom of the corporate world, Estrich said. For example, even though 50 percent of
students in law schools are female, the vast majority of them are never offered partnership positions with a major firm.

"I looked around one day and realized that all of the men I knew were running the world," Estrich said. "Even I, the good feminist I am, thought things
were better."

She pointed out that only three Fortune 500 companies are run by women. This is the same number as 20 years ago, she said.

"Even the women that make it into that top little group earn less than the men do," she said.

Estrich, a mother of two, said trying to balance a family and a job is a difficult task with no real solution.

At age 35, she gave up a tenured position at Harvard to have a family.

"We talk family values. We preach family values," she said, "but the reality of the corporate world is that it has not adjusted to the reality of children."

Parental roles played an important part in the ambitions of her generation of women, Estrich said. Their ambition was to break away from living the
same lives their mothers did.

While this ambition has led to a more educated and financially successful female generation, Estrich said the very idea of ambition is seen as a
complimentary characteristic only for men, while women are much more likely to be referred to negatively as being "too ambitious."

Estrich believes that many women still forgo or hide having children to avoid the potential complications and stereotypes that accompany mixing a
family with a professional life.

"Unless we come together, men and women, there won't be any good choices," she said.

While Estrich's numbers indicate there is still a strong inequality between the sexes, the women who came "crashing" into schools 25 years ago have
helped to pave the way for what could be a better life, she said.

"We would not be where we are today without the courage of those before us," Estrich said. "We now have an obligation to open the door for those after
us."

In addition to her teaching profession, Estrich is a contributing editor for the Los Angeles Times as well as an author. Her books include Real Rape
and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Sex and Power.
 
 
 

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