Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Elise Edwards


"Gentleman M.B". is recorded in United States history as far back as 1638, and was a successful landowner, local leader, and attorney to the governor. What is not translated is that this gentleman was, in fact, a woman: Margaret Brent was the first known female attorney, and would be the only one allowed entrance to the Bar for more than 200 years. Even though centuries later, in 1869, Myra Bradwell (Illinois), Mary Magoon (Iowa) and Belle Mansfield (Iowa) gained access to the legal community, women remained an outcast minority until very recently. A mere two percent of the profession was female in 1970, rising to 12% by 1980. The American Bar Association's 2008 statistics place women law students at 47%, while only 18.3% as partners of a firm, and report a grand total of 31.6% of all attorneys. The reluctant acceptance of women into the legal field still bears an effect of female status, progress and success. Prevailing stereotypes about a women's place and responsibility for society have created difficult stigmas and challenges for females entering the legal field.