A new exhibit opens in March at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park. It’s titled To Advance the Status of Women in Law and Society: Lawyers Club of San Diego at 50 Years.
Yesterday, during a visit to the History Center, I enjoyed a preview of the exhibit, which then was almost complete.
Displays filled with photographs and detailed descriptions explain how over the years women have fought for equal rights and opportunity in California, and San Diego in particular.
I learned how Clara Shortridge Foltz, the first woman to pass the California bar in 1883, helped lead the fight for the women’s right to vote in California.
I learned how gender bias in the San Diego legal community, right up into the 1970s, made it hard for women attorneys to gain employment.
I also learned how one woman achieved unique success. Madge Bradley, who was appointed to the San Diego Municipal Court bench in 1953, was the first woman to serve on a judicial bench in San Diego County.
When Madge Bradley retired, there again were no women on the bench, and only 24 women practicing law in all of San Diego County. So six female lawyers, who sought to challenge gender bias in their profession and elevate the status of women, started the Lawyers Club in 1972.
Over the decades, the Lawyers Club of San Diego has helped to greatly advance the cause of women, and equal rights, not only in the legal profession, but throughout society.
But there is still work to do. For several decades women have graduated from law school at the same rate as men, but they still make up a minority of judges.
One display explains how to make change happen: by voting, advocacy, speaking out, raising awareness, leadership, finding allies, and giving back.
In 2022, the Lawyers Club is celebrating their 50th Anniversary!