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

Pressure to "Succeed"

Pressure to "Succeed"

More From Catharine

In this video

MacKinnon talks about the pressure to "succeed" that so often leads people away from their dreams.

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

Dolores Huerta
Dolores Huerta
Co-Founder, United Farm Workers

Dolores Huerta is a union leader and an activist for the rights of farm workers and women. Along with Cesar Chavez, she founded the first successful farm workers union in the count...

Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros
Pioneering Latina Writer

Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican-American novelist, poet, and short story writer. Her books include The House on Mango Street, Caramelo, and Woman Hollering Creek. She is the recipient...

Lilly Ledbetter
Lilly Ledbetter
Equal Pay for Equal Work

Lilly Ledbetter worked as an area manager at Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Alabama for nineteen years. Her crusade to remedy the gender-based pay discrimination that she suffered duri...

Sara Hurwitz
Sara Hurwitz
First Female Orthodox "Rabba"

Sara Hurwitz is the first officially ordained “Rabba,” in Orthodox Judaism. She is the Rabba at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and the Dean of Yeshivat Maharat, also...