After Women's Suffrage
Washington Women in Law
Female majority, WA State Supreme Court, 2003-2007. From First Women in Washington Law exhibit produced by the Washington State Heritage Center.
Honoring Our Legacy: Three Washington Women Lawyers Who Made History
For National Women's History Month Jessica A. Skelton, president of Washington Women Lawyers, recognized three pioneering Washington women. Skelton presented biographical sketches of Leila J. Robinson, Reah Mary Whitehead, and Reba Hurn on the Washington Bar Association website.
First Washington Women in Law
from an exhibit about Washington women in the law. The exhibit was produced by Washington
Courts and The Washington State Heritage Center.
Lesson Plan: Her Day in Court
By Margaret Fisher
of the lesson plan "Her Day in Court: Women Judges and Justice in Washington State."
This lesson explores the history of women in the legal profession in Washington.
Students learn vocabulary terms relating to discrimination and then view the DVD
and pick out examples of their newly learned vocabulary terms. Discussion following
the DVD explores the examples found in the DVD and the coping strategies of women
to deal with the barriers presented. Students will examine within their own lives
where the money and power are located.
High school students in grades 9-12.
At the end of this lesson, students will be better able to:
- Define vocabulary of sex discrimination.
- Identify barriers women faced historically in becoming lawyers and judges.
- Consider what barriers women face today in employment.
- Chart history of changes for women in law.
- Identify strategies women use to become successful.
One class period (approximately 50 minutes).
- Vocabulary of Discrimination
- Her Day in Court DVD (28 min.) available from the Gender and Justice Commission,
the Washington State Law Library and the Northwest Women’s Law Center.
- Blank Women in the Courts
for document camera.
- Completed Women in the Courts handout for distribution in class.
Make copies for each student of two handouts: Vocabulary of Discrimination handout
and Completed Women in the Courts handout.
- Begin by asking the class if anyone can give the name of a lawyer or judge from
either Washington State or from anywhere in the country. Tell students not to include
TV judges or lawyers. Assuming that no one volunteers the name of a woman judge,
ask if anyone can think of any woman lawyer or woman judge in Washington State or
the entire country. Give them a minute to think. Tell students that while it might
have been hard to think of a name, today they are going to learn about the challenges
faced by women in the law profession in the history of Washington and today.
- Tell students before they watch this DVD of the history of women in the law in Washington,
they are going to learn some vocabulary terms, so that during the DVD they can pick
out examples of these concepts.
- Pass out the Vocabulary
and explain the vocabulary terms to students. Tell them to jot in examples as they
watch the DVD.
- Show the DVD. Note: Students may ask about the judge in the DVD who is not a lawyer.
They may be interested in learning that today in jurisdictions of fewer than 5,000
people, the judges do not have to be attorneys. According to the Administrative
Office of the Courts, there are now three lay judges in Washington.
- After the DVD is over, ask students to relate examples from the DVD.
- Ask students what were the various strategies that the women in the DVD used to
react to the difficulties. Write their responses on the board: had a sense of humor,
persevered, got support from other women in meetings, developed political base,
overcompensated, changed their goal, gave up parts of their personality and adopted
- Use the Timeline
for the Document Camera to build a time line with students based on the DVD.
- Ask students whether they think women face any challenges in the courts in these
times. If time permits, put the handout on the document camera of the hierarchy
of the courts. Use a pen to fill in the numbers of the number of women judges and
women of color, starting with municipal court. You might indicate the types of cases
that each court level hears, since students will generally be unfamiliar with the
types of courts. After you have completed this overhead, pass out a copy of the
Women in the Courts handout, which includes additional information than was in the
- Suggest that students explore on their own time the number of women judges in their
superior court, district court, and if applicable, municipal court. They might do
a later research project about any woman judge in their area or the state.
- Ask students to look into their own lives and see whether or not women still face
- Invite students to work for justice and equality.