By Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
"Life’s Work: An Interview with Sandra Day O’Connor"
December 1, 2013
Sandra Day O’Connor graduated from Stanford Law School in 1952 but had trouble finding work as a lawyer because, at the time, firms would hire only men. She went on to become the first female majority leader of a U.S. state senate and the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court. Known as a centrist, a consensus builder, and a “mother hen” to her staff, she now leads iCivics, a platform for teaching kids about government.
You grew up on a ranch that straddled Arizona and New Mexico—a long way from Washington, DC, and the Supreme Court. How did that upbringing influence you?
Growing up on a ranch, you’re assigned certain tasks, and you’d darned well better do them and do them right. Everyone was expected to help and to do their best. I’ll tell you a little story. Once, when I was a teenager, the workers were rounding up the cattle in an area very far from the ranch headquarters. We had to get lunch to them, and the roundup cook for some reason wasn’t going to be there. So I got up extremely early, my mother and I fixed the lunch, and I got in a pickup truck alone to drive to the place where they were. I was going along, when all of a sudden I got a flat tire. So I stopped the truck and got out. I knew how to jack a car up—I’d seen it done—so I found the jack and did that. I worked so hard. Then I got the flat tire off and the spare tire on, put the lug bolts in tight, and got everything working again. But it took me a long time. By the time I got to the men, it was several hours