Present at the Conception

Mary Schroeder

Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 was nearly ten years old before Arizona lawyers realized their state law needed to ban sex discrimination in employment. Indeed, major Phoenix law firms were openly refusing to hire women in 1969, five years after the federal law went into effect. As the mid-1970s approached, the women’s movement was getting into full swing, and women were graduating from law schools in numbers that could no longer be ignored. In 1974, several women graduated from the Arizona State University School of Law, including Ruth McGregor, who later became Arizona’s Chief Justice. She recalled that 1974 was the first year that major Phoenix law firms hired ASU women straight out of law school, though many attorneys were hostile, and, she added, at least some remained hostile for many years.

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