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Checking in on a groundbreaking master's thesis more than half a century later

Jeanie Chung writes, "In 1955, Joan Feitler, AM’55—Joan Elden at the time—wrote a sociology master’s thesis: “The Woman Lawyer: A Report.” She talked to 50 female lawyers in Chicago to conduct the first academic study of women in the legal profession. The study’s two goals were to “obtain a general sociological picture of women lawyers in Chicago” and to examine discrimination they might feel as women in the field.

In addition to general questions about their educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, Feitler asked: What are your thoughts about women lawyers as a group? Do women take the legal profession as seriously as men? Would you go into law if you had to do it over again? She also asked if the attorneys had felt discrimination at different stages of their careers, from law school admission to treatment by male lawyers, clients, and judges.

Sixty years later, Feitler expressed an interest in seeing the research updated and was pleased when Jaclyn Wong, AM’13, who wrote an undergraduate thesis at University of California, Irvine, on gender inequality and is working on a dissertation on gender inequality in dual-career couples, took on the project.

The two share their thoughts on the original research, the update, and how the profession has—or has not—changed, edited and adapted below."

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