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Women in the Law | Madeline Gustafson


Celebrating Women in the Law | Madeline Gustafson

What does female empowerment mean to you, both personally and professionally?

Personally, I think female empowerment is celebrating all women and their various roles in society at any given moment – allowing women to feel seen within their respective choices – whether it’s a woman’s choice to advance her career or her choice to be a full-time mother or caregiver, I think female empowerment is celebrating the beauty and complexity that might arise within any given societal role and respecting each woman for their choice. The last thing women need is to be judged for the role that they occupy in society.

Professionally, female empowerment, reflects an organization providing access and opportunity. For example, just recently Jenny Cavnar became the First-Ever female primary play-by-play announcer in the MLB. There was absolutely no other woman that Ms. Cavnar could have looked up to in order to become a female play-by-play announcer, but her organization provided both the opportunity and the access for her to succeed. In the workplace, empowerment is about access and opportunity for those who might not otherwise have it just by virtue of the profession or the society.

Historically, women have been behind men because of the confines of society. In the U.S., women could not vote until 1920, were not protected as athletes until the passing of Title IX in 1972, and generally could not take out loans without a male co-signer until the passing of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974. In a very short timeframe, as women were given both access and opportunity – women gained enormous ground in politics, as we now have the first female Vice President; in athletics, as we now have the collegiate basketball phenom in Caitlin Clark (who is selling out stadiums more than her male counterparts at the University of Iowa… who says women’s sports aren’t profitable?); and in growing small businesses, as women now own 42% of small businesses in the United States according to the Women's Business Enterprise National Council. This progress began with giving women both access and opportunity in their respective fields – which is how I personally define female empowerment professionally.

Madeline Gustafson Women in the Law graphic

March 2024