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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Interview With Two of First Female Graduates of Harvard Law

Aired January 21, 2003 - 07:46   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: They graduated from Harvard Law School in 1964, 15 women it turns out in a class by themselves. A new book reveals how they survived and thrived in a man's world, paving the way for future generations.
The book is called "Pinstripes and Pearls," and the author, Judith Richards Hope, is one of those pioneering women. She joins us now, along with her Harvard Law classmate, a woman you all know, former Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder.

Good morning.

JUDITH RICHARDS HOPE, AUTHOR, "PINSTRIPES & PEARLS": Good morning.

PATRICIA SCHROEDER, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: Good morning, Paula.

ZAHN: Welcome. You two survived.

SCHROEDER: It's good to be here.

ZAHN: And you survived together.

HOPE: We did.

ZAHN: It is really extraordinary what you tell in this book. But here you are today, you sit on corporate boards, you work at a prestigious law firm, you served in the White House at one point, and yet during law school, you were made to feel like you were a failure. What did the men tell you?

HOPE: Well, we weren't made to feel like we were failures entirely, but a lot of the professors helped us. But some of the professors didn't know what to do with us, and some of the men had never been in school with a woman before. We were called "girls" in those days. And they wouldn't sit with us or talk with us or eat with us at all. They didn't know what to do with us.

SCHROEDER: You have to remember how much there was sex-egrated (ph) education at that time, and an awful lot of our class really had never even (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with a girl in their class. So, it was like it we contaminated the air. And there were other people who would always say you're taking this position from a man, and you're never going to use it. I think even the dean thought we were never going to use it.

ZAHN: Well, that is an extraordinary story, too, because the dean invited you to his home for dinner, and I guess the question he posed to all of you collectively is: Why are you taking the place of a man? How did you answer that question?

HOPE: Well, it wasn't -- it wasn't collectively. It was individually. After dinner, we sat around in a circle in folding chairs, and he asked each one of us: Why are you at Harvard Law School? Are you going to use your education? And we answered it in different ways. I said, I sure am, because my dad had a bad (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from a Methodist bishop in Ohio, and I want to rectify that, and so I will.

SCHRODER: But what I learned was from one of our classmates, Anne Dudley Cronkite (ph), who is now married to Bill Brunt (ph). But anyway, she was terrific. She just said, "Well, I'm here because I couldn't get in at Yale," which kind of...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: That's a good one. That got him.

SCHROEDER: From then on, the game was kind of over. But, yes, we were very -- everybody was sitting there holding on to their folding chair with white knuckles, trying to think of some very profound reason.

HOPE: Absolutely.

ZAHN: Well, what else did you have to put up with? You weren't allowed to freely partake in discussions in the classroom. Wasn't there a "girls' day," and that was the day where you were allowed to chime in?

SCHROEDER: Well, I was in the section where we had "ladies' day."

ZAHN: Oh, "ladies' day."

SCHROEDER: And I think that's part of where we learned to hang together to survive, because some of the young women from the prior year were more than willing to tutor us as to what this was going to be like. Otherwise, we might have never recovered. And you will live through it, you go up on the stage...

HOPE: That's right.

SCHROEDER: ... he throws you a lot of questions, you know, this is kind of what happened. And thank goodness for that sisterhood, because it was traumatizing. I mean, we had many professors who said, by putting in ladies restrooms, which they had to do to bring us in, it denied them so many new books in the library. Oh, please, you know?

ZAHN: Well, let me ask you this. There are a lot of women who would argue although there has been progress made in the workplace, this camaraderie among women is essential to survival within corporations today. Do you think it's changed all that much in terms of the relationships you must have...

HOPE: Yes, Paula...

ZAHN: ... to maintain stability?

HOPE: I think a network is very important. The men have figured out a network for a long time. The women now have figured that out. And I think it is important -- friendships, networks, heads-up, watch out, this is coming at you, or let me help you a little bit. And certainly, the women in my class have helped each other for 40 years.

ZAHN: What is the most powerful lesson you learned, particularly when I think of your loftier political ambitions? Was there this tape of what happened at Harvard Law School that kept you centered...

SCHROEDER: I always said...

ZAHN: ... when a bunch of mud was being thrown at you?

SCHROEDER: Oh, Paula, you are so right, because it was absolutely the best practice I could have had for moving into the United States Congress where the numbers were almost exactly the same. There were just a handful of women there when I got there in 1973. And so, I thought, oh, this is like Harvard Law School. And it was the same thing. People saying, oh, you must be a fluke, or you won't be around long. Why are you here? What do you really want to do? You know, nobody could really believe it.

ZAHN: Well, I wish the dean of your school was still alive to see the great success both of you have attained.

HOPE: Well, he did see it, and he wrote about Pat and me and our class (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in his book, and he was proud of us. He said, "I am proud of them."

ZAHN: But many years after the fact.

HOPE: Yes.

ZAHN: Well, we salute you.

HOPE: It took a long time.

ZAHN: You've made a big difference to all of us working in the trenches out here. Judith Richards Hope, Patricia Schroeder, great to see both of you.

SCHROEDER: Thank you, Paula.

HOPE: Thank you.

ZAHN: "Pinstripes and Pearls," no pearls on today -- oh, pearl earrings. No strands of pearls. Good luck to both of you.

HOPE: Thank you.

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