Professor Carol Sanger Honored for Dedication to Mentoring Female Students


Public Affairs, 212-854-2650
New York, April 23, 2010—The Columbia Law Women’s Association annual Myra Bradwell Dinner is named after a woman who was nothing if not ambitious.
Best known for being denied admission to the Illinois Bar in 1873 because she was a married woman, Bradwell was the crusading publisher of a legal newspaper who used her bully pulpit to support aspiring women lawyers.
“Myra Bradwell was not only smart, she was also ambitious and wanted her accomplishments to be recognized,” said Carol Sanger, the Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law, who was honored at the Bradwell dinner on April 14. Sanger was “unanimously identified” by Law School faculty, students, and alumni who more than anyone else, has made an outstanding effort to mentor female Columbia Law students,” according to Myra Bradwell chairman Meghan McGuire.
Sanger was introduced by Professor Katherine Franke, Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, who lauded her longtime colleague. During a speech at the dinner, Sanger wondered whether Bradwell remains something of an anomaly even today.
“It is my sense and I hate to say, my experience, that women are still often reticent to claim and to aspire to accomplishment,” Sanger said. “To give but two minor examples, I rarely hear men in class start a question with the apology that “This may be a stupid question, but ….” And I almost never hear men turn a declarative statement into a question by tilting the sentence upward at the end.
“These may not be perfect examples but they do to some extent represent a degree of lack of confidence. To claim accomplishment or authority takes ambition and somehow ambition is not ladylike.”
Sanger conceded she is still “trying to get in touch with her inner Bradwell,” but noted “ambition is a good if often a complicated, thing to grasp.”
To read the full text of Sanger’s speech click here:
Sanger was also honored on April 21 as Outstanding Public Interest Faculty Member of the Year at the annual Social Justice
Honors Dinner, where she was introduced by Jennifer Seo '11. She praised Sanger for encouraging students to "think outside the proverbial four corners of the law" to take into account cultural and social differences.
"I have actually not yet had the good fortune of having her as a professor in a class," Seo said. "So I took the liberty of viewing some of the evaluations from her fall contracts class. Unsurprisingly, students commented, “She’s an excellent professor”; “She is a nice person”; and “She’s really funny.” But my favorite comment was, “She gives me hope that after law school I will be able to stay a normal person.”
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