Reviews: In Defense of Women

July 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

I got completely sucked into Nancy Gertner’s memoirs, In Defense of Women, which cover her career as a lawyer and some of the major cases she worked on until becoming a Federal District Judge. Her cases spanned first-degree murder charges, sexual harassment and discrimination, and many civil rights violations of disadvantaged people.

Throughout the book, Gertner talks about what it was like for her to work in a highly male-dominated profession from the 1970’s onward, career ambitions and other life balances, and her determination not to just play it safe to get through difficult situations. (I’ll leave out the “having it all” reference that has gotten so much online attention lately, but she goes into those issues in the book too). Sometimes that involved wearing red suits in court, other times advising a client not to plead guilty for lesser charges when the situation didn’t call for it. Always it involved being awesome.

More than anything though her career gives me hope that it is possible to work for social justice and women’s rights on both an individual and societal level. Her advocacy benefited not only the people directly involved in her cases, but created larger change through legal reform and redress with theoretical and real-world applications.

I’m personally very wrapped up in these ideas, how someone can work on a direct level to help address tangible wrongs in society while also creating social shifts in values and norms. So far the plan is to go to graduate school for research, though lately I’ve been drawn more and more to sociology rather than psychology. We’ll see if I can somehow incorporate red suits into that plan.

Definitely check out In Defense of Women if you’re even a little bit interested in any of the above, and let me know what you think!

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