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Home / Supplements and Special Sections / WJA 2018 / From the publisher: HEAR THEM ROAR

From the publisher: HEAR THEM ROAR

In the summer of 1972, I spent most days patrolling my tiny hometown on my treasured pink bike that proudly boasted a banana seat, high handlebars and a white, faux-wicker basket hooked to the front.

That’s where Peggy always sat. Fearlessly, my Scottie pup rode with me down and up every hill and around every twist and turn. And always spinning and banging around on the bars was the transistor radio, shaped like a little bowling ball. We considered it must-have traveling equipment.

Peggy and I shared glorious days of travel. The best were when the radio waves were perfectly aligned, the sun was shining bright and a clear downhill path beckoned in front of us. That’s when Helen might show up.

“I am woman, hear me roar,” she would start softly from the banging bowling ball. “In numbers too big to ignore.”

By the time the hill bottom was in our rearview mirror (if we had had one) and we were close to a spectacular crash onto Lulabell Hoffstetter’s front porch, I would slam on the brakes, skid through gravel that hadn’t yet become one with the black tar, stamp one foot onto the ground in triumph and belt out the best part with Helen.

“I am strong!”

“I am invincible!”

“I am woooommmmaaannnn!”

I don’t know what came over me. Even Peggy got the chills. She was thrilled for me.

It was, I guess, our fight song. We didn’t know then what we were fighting, but it sure was a spectacular feeling.

Maybe, with a little push from Helen, we intuitively knew we were growing up in a time that would witness incredible changes for women.

That same year, Gloria Steinem would launch Ms. Magazine, and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act would be amended to include the EEOC Act.

Women began pouring into the legal profession. In 1970, it is estimated there were 13,000 female attorneys in the U.S., or 4 percent of the profession’s population. In 1980, there were 62,000 taking up more than 12 percent of the aggregate.

Forty-six years later, women now comprise more than 50 percent of law-school graduates.

Parity in the workplace, while still not achieved, doesn’t seem as elusive as it did then.

Many of those we honor today through our Women’s Justice Awards program probably know every word to the lyrics of Reddy’s iconic anthem. They were there, at the start of what would rocket into a fury for equal rights and recognition in this country.

And there are honorees on the pages of this section who have never heard the sound of a song through a transistor radio. Yet, they, too, blazed incredible trails into a new millennium and beyond. They had their own blacktop roads to traverse and ballads to sing as they solidly planted a foot … just short of Lulabell’s porch.

All of the attorneys we honor this year in this elite program are remarkable in many ways, regardless of the number of chromosomes they have, the bike they rode, the song they sing or the decade in which they came alive.

But it is their gender that adds the exclamation point on their story of success.

They benefited from roaring women before who helped each find their voice. And they will pay it forward, inspiring those who follow.

These women, all 51 of them featured in this section, excel in Missouri’s legal community. They hold positions of strength, lead firms boldly, wear battle scars proudly, serve the underprivileged, aspire to a new future, support the legal profession and teach the next generation of lawyers.

They are women.

In numbers too big to ignore.

Peggy would be thrilled.

 

Liz Irwin

Publisher, Missouri Lawyers Media

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