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

A Mother's Legacy

A Mother's Legacy

More From Catharine

In this video

MacKinnon shares her disbelief at her mother's inability to reach her full potential due to barriers of the times. 

Catharine's Biography

Growing up: Grew up on a farm in Minnesota, more or less in the middle of nowhere.
First Job: Babysitter.
Describing Herself: "I teach. I litigate. I write, and I agitate for women. I work practically to change things."
Reflecting On Her Life: "I didn't anticipate any particular early death, but I never thought I would live to be this age. I feel triumphant."

Catharine MacKinnon is a legal scholar who pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment. As an undergraduate at Smith College, MacKinnon was first introduced to the constitutional law and political theory that inspired her to pursue a career that could address the bigger philosophical questions about society. That hunger eventually led her to earn both a law degree and PhD in political science from Yale. 
It was in New Haven among the ranks of a consciousness-raising group at the heart of the Women’s Movement where she became aware of the systematic sexual discrimination of women. MacKinnon recalls, “It wasn’t an issue. It was just life.” That would all change after the publication of her revolutionary 1979 legal argument that defined the term “sexual harassment.” By 1986, the Supreme Court adopted her argument into law without pause.
 

Along with teaching law at the University of Michigan, Yale, Chicago, Harvard and many more esteemed institutions, MacKinnon has become a powerful voice for international gender equality. She pushed to successfully implement her concept of “gender crimes” among international human rights violations, and since 2008 has been the Special Gender Adviser to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Due to her groundbreaking work and refusal to cave in, MacKinnon is among the most widely cited legal scholars in the English language.
 

Related Videos

Glenn Close
Glenn Close
Actress

Glenn Close has been a Hollywood star for many decades and is best known for her many Oscar-nominated roles. More recently, she is also known for her Emmy award winning role on FX&...

Susan Cain
Susan Cain
Writer

Susan Cain is the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, published in 2012. The non-fiction book, which took seven years to write, immedia...

Donna de Varona
Donna de Varona
Olympic Champion & Sportscaster

At 14 years of age, Donna de Varona was the youngest swimmer to compete at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Four years later at the 1964 Tokyo games, she won two gold medals, setting an O...

Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown
Author & Activist

Rita Mae Brown is an activist and author best known for her first novel Rubyfruit Jungle. She has written thirteen literary novels, more than two-dozen mysteries and several books ...