Stand up and Vote- 100 Years and Counting
On August 18, 1920, one hundred years ago today, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving white women in the United States the right to vote.* The right to have a voice in setting policy for government had been elusive for years. While women in some European nations embraced militarism which at times became violent, in America, fearless suffragists opted for nonviolent disobedience. American suffragettes believed that by being thoughtful, smart, and relentless, women would someday be afforded a voice in their government, and by extension, their own lives.
World War I became the turning point in the battle for the right to vote. As men fought the war, working women now had the economic power to demand that their voices be heard.
We are indebted to those who fought tirelessly to afford women the opportunity to voice their support and opposition to government policy. Elections matter, whether they are for positions on a school board, judgeship, state government or president. We cannot become complacent and think our vote does not count. Change only occurs when people demand it.
While we may have come a long way as a nation in the past 100 years, we still have a long way to go to level the playing field. Achieving equality has been difficult– in government, business, and yes, in the practice of law. According to Fortune, only 7.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. According to several articles published in American Bar Association journals, approximately 36% of the legal profession are women, but women comprise only 30% of judges and 17% of the equity partners in large law firms. These numbers and percentages are better today than they were 40 years ago, but we should be much further ahead after 100 years of voting.
We are fortunate at Atlee Hall that women are well-represented. In fact, among our staff, women are the majority.
Nevertheless, we can all still do more. Stand up and speak out clearly. Let your voices be heard. Vote.
*(Black, Hispanic, and Asian American women were not afforded the right to vote until almost 50 years later when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed.)