ZIn the book's interview with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Hutchison and O'Connor reveal how difficult it was for women in the recent past to make careers in the law. After O'Connor, who graduated from law school in 1952, relates the frustrations she faced in trying to land a job at male-dominated law firms, Hutchison says, "I graduated in 1967, 15 years later, and I went through the same thing. Not one major law firm in Houston hired women as regular attorneys. I had interviews, but none of them ."
O'Connor interrupts, "But at least you had interviews."
Kay Bailey Hutchison has kept her charm and kindness, even while breaking down barriers. If you watch her debate or deliver a speech on the Senate floor (like her TV broadcast scripts, her speeches have improved over time), she can display conviction on the things she cares about, but she does not alienate people to the point where a relationship is broken.
When she married, she learned that the money she had been saving in an Individual Retirement Account would be substantially reduced because the law at the time prevented married, stay-at-home women from saving as much as their husbands. After becoming a senator, she worked with Senator Barbara Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, to remove that discriminatory barrier to women who choose to stay home and make a career as a mother and homemaker.
My only regret is that this book did not include some of those homemaking women among the modern heroines she selected. Such women never receive awards or recognition from culture, though their rewards are usually more valuable to them and longer lasting than anything the world can offer.
Even with this omission, "American Heroines" is a welcome book, whose author - the first woman to represent Texas in the United States Senate - knows about such things because she is one herself.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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