How Sandra Day O’Connor Inspires Me – Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, our NeW Ambassadors are sharing about the female historical figures who inspire them the most. Emily Johnson, a member of NeW at Xavier University, shares why she is inspired by Sandra Day O’Connor. 

Which female historical figure inspires you the most? 

I am inspired by Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court.  

What time period did she exist in? What were the major world events going on at the time of her career? 

O’Connor was born in 1930 and recently passed away in late 2023. During her career as a Supreme Court Justice (1981-2006), major worldwide events took place such as the technological advancements of the 80s, the end of the Cold War in 1991, and the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. 

Why does she stand out to you? 

Sandra Day O’Connor stands out to me as she was the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court after her appointment by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. 

What struggles did this particular woman have to overcome? 

O’Connor was unable to find a job as a lawyer upon graduating from Stanford Law School, regardless of her academic success, as law firms were not likely to hire women during this time. She was even offered a job at one law firm as a legal secretary despite her interviewing for a position as a lawyer (Anderson). O’Connor overcame these challenges and went on to serve as an Associate Justice of the highest court in the United States of America. She has been described as a “pistol” and was a trailblazer for women, especially Conservative women, in law (Anderson). 



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