Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

From Cattle to Law

From Cattle to Law

More From Sandra Day

In this video

O'Connor didn't always dream of becoming a lawyer.  She started with a much different goal.

Sandra Day's Biography

Cause of Choice: iCivics.org
Life on a Ranch: Her early years were spent on the family cattle ranch, in an adobe house with no running water, electricity or indoor plumbing.
The Way It Was: She was one of only three female students when she attended Stanford Law School.
Life Goal: "Work at work worth doing."

Sandra Day O’Connor is the daughter of ranchers—and, equally, of the land on the New Mexico-Arizona border that she and her family worked during the Great Depression. She would later recall ranch life as being formative in the simplicity, independence, and pragmatism demanded by the desert. O’Connor lived her father’s dream by earning a BA and a law degree at Stanford before marrying and starting a family.
 
Turned down by law firms who refused to hire women, she embarked on a distinguished prosecutorial career that led her to the Arizona Court of Appeals and, in 1981, to her appointment as the first woman ever to sit on the United States Supreme Court. O’Connor received more than 60,000 letters during her first year as an Associate Justice, but shied from public attention and expressed relief when she was joined on the bench by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993. No longer its sole woman, O'Connor nonetheless played a powerful role on the Court: she was famous for often casting the pivotal vote in narrowly decided cases. Since her 2006 retirement, O’Connor has protected her beloved Court from without, as a vocal critic of “nakedly partisan” attacks on the independent judiciary. 

Related Videos

Ellen Ochoa
Ellen Ochoa
Director, Johnson Space Center

Ellen Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to go into space when she served on a mission aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1993. After graduating with a master of science degree and...

Ellie Smeal
Ellie Smeal
Co-Founder & President, Feminist Majority

Eleanor (Ellie) Smeal, is Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Through both organizations...

Pat Eng
Pat Eng
Founder, New York Asian Women's Center

Patrica Eng is a social worker and activist devoted to women’s issues. She is Vice President for Grants and Capacity Building at the Ms. Foundation. Earlier in her career, sh...

Guo Jianmei
Guo Jianmei
China's First Public Interest Lawyer

Guo Jianmei is a human rights activist, lawyer and founder of the Women’s Legal Research and Services Center. Born into a family of peasants in 1960, Jianmei witnessed severe...