Harvard WLA Conference: Adding Our Voices

Harvard Law School has 1,680 J.D. students. Its class of 2015 (those currently completing 1L year) is 48 percent women and 39 percent minorities. Although two of the three leaders of our different branches of government are graduates of this law school, neither is a woman. Nor, for that matter, are the leaders of the third branch of government.

This year, four upper-year co-chairs, three 1Ls, the president and vice-president of the Harvard Women’s Law Association (WLA) - a total of nine students - are organizing a full-day conference on women’s representation in national leadership and the discussion of women’s issues in national conversation. With the generosity of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP, the WLA has held a similar conference for the past six years.

I was on the phone with a potential speaker last week, for our “2012: Year of the Woman” panel, trying to figure out how this woman might be able to zigzag the country in a 48-hour span away from her six-week-old child in order to attend our conference. “I think what you all are doing is so important,” she said. “Really? It is?”  

Yes, it is.

It may not be easy to forget the status of women in our society: articles are posted, stories are broadcast, studies are published, statements are made, and laws are passed - all of which bring home that point on a daily basis. 

But, it is easy to forget our personal roles in that state of affairs. It is easy to feel like a cog in a wheel, a member of a silent majority. 

It was wonderful to hear a reminder: that, not only am I not insignificant, I am also not silent. I (along with my intrepid team of peers) am organizing a conference. I am bringing women together from across the country and across the world to speak on, think about, and share information about some of the most vexing issues for women, particularly women in the law.

Women from all backgrounds were likely troubled this past year as they saw and heard men, almost exclusively, discussing and ruling on issues that directly and primarily affect women. Women are also likely troubled by the cause: that men, almost exclusively, control our country’s most powerful offices and, thus, dominate public discourse on these issues.

With the Harvard Women’s Law Association conference on February 8th (for which you can register at tinyurl.com/WLAreg), we are doing our part to add our voices to that discourse. 

To be heard it is necessary, if not sufficient, to continue speaking - how’s that for a conditional statement!

Elizabeth Rosen is a second-year student at Harvard Law School.

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