Raising Our Voices: Celebration 65 at Harvard Law School


I love coming to this event
because women are amazing. So this is my first
celebration event. The alumni community
at Harvard Law School is certainly extraordinary. Harvard Law School women
include Supreme Court justices, attorney generals,
heads of state courts. I feel like almost
any problem I had, that if I just got
out my directory and made a couple of
calls, I could solve it. This has been an
absolutely amazing program. I’ve seen and met people
from all walks of life, including a playwright, a tech
entrepreneur, former president of Ireland, politicians. What a tremendous experience. It’s been 65 years since
women have been here at Harvard, which is amazing. But it’s only 65 years. I was going to go
to Yale, and then when I learned that Harvard was
going to take women, I said, I’ve always wanted
to be a pioneer. Is there anyone here in
the room was class of ’68? Hands up, anyone? No one? I’m that old? Oh well. We felt like we were on
the brink of something incredibly exciting. And yet so few women were
out there as role models. When I went back to
India in the mid ’80s, I was one of very, very
few women for that time, for about 10 years, in
court as a barrister, litigating every day. We had almost no
women professors. There were almost no women
partners in big firms. Very few women, very
few opportunities. Unyielding clients,
and skeptical judges. So we were stepping into this
exciting career, but many of us didn’t have people who looked
like us on the other side. So it was incredibly exciting
for me to join the faculty, and to finally be at the
front of that classroom, where the women in the class
could have someone like them at the front of the room. We’ve made progress. We haven’t made as much
progress as we would like, but for instance now, women
are being hired by law firms. Not like Sandra Day O’Connor
or Ruth Ginsburg got out, and they couldn’t
even find legal jobs. The problem is we’re
not retaining women at the higher levels of
law firms and corporations. I think there are
a lot of barriers. I mean, when I talk to
a lot of young women, they ask me about
work-life balance. I think a big
challenge for women is how you, quote
unquote, “do it all.” Even when you have
two professionals, it’s very often the man
whose career dominates. Professor Hilary Sale always
said you can do it all, work through the chaos,
live through the chaos. You just might not be
able to do it all at once. I determined when I was a small
child that I would study law. I can’t remember a time when
I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I feel like I’m living my
mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother’s
wildest dreams. Women are now doing things
that we did not dream women could do when we were here. I believe that what makes
the Harvard Law School alumni so extraordinary
is their willingness to give back to society. They have been successful
at every level, but they’ve never forgotten
that they didn’t get there by themselves, and they’re
willing to give back to their communities. So raising our voices, to me,
means using our Harvard Law degree for the greater good. My education at
Harvard Law School is the foundation
for everything good that happened in my career. The critical thinking, the
intense debate, the need to really, really think. I deeply believe that the
women from Harvard Law School are uniquely positioned to be
leaders, not just in the United States, but around the world. They taught me to speak up,
to argue, and to succeed. We’ve been trained
to use our voices. We have an individual
responsibility, but also, a collective
responsibility to use that power and to use
that voice to make positive change in the world. The advice that I
would give women today is not to underestimate
the task at hand. We’re realizing our own
power, and our own strength, and our own voice. And above all, to be passionate
about what you want to do, so that the many hurdles
of life that women face, you will stay the course, and
passion will help you overcome.

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Comments

  1. Instead of women complaining their is not enough women in senior positions why dont they create their own empire and hire women? Oh wait I know that would take talent and hard work better to sleep your way to the top..

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