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Women and the Law Conference 2008

February 29, 2008

Please join us for the Eighth Annual Women and the Law Conference as we explore Women in Politics and The Role of Gender in Political Decision Making.

Women have made enormous strides in the political arena and are enjoying a presence that is unparalleled in the United States. Women are being elected to state and local governments in numbers greater than ever. A record number of women now serve in the 110th Congress: 74 in the House of Representatives and 16 in the Senate. California voters have played a critical role in this progress by electing two female senators and the first female Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

2008 promises to be another exciting political year with the first candidacy of a woman for the office of President of the United States. Women are still a long way, however, from the day in which the ultimate glass ceiling will be easily shattered and a candidate’s gender will be considered truly irrelevant in an election.

Women and the Law Conference Overview:

This year’s Women and the Law Conference brings together an inspirational panel of female politicians and political scientists to examine the role of gender in U.S. politics. The conference speakers will explore a number of topics, including: the intersection of race, class and gender in elections; the role of gender in campaign messages; gender voting patterns; partisan differences in the nomination of women to office, female congressional candidates; and male/female judicial voting patterns.

Read the Biographies of Panelists


9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Women as Leaders

  • ModeratorLorena Gonzalez,  Secretary-Treasurer, San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council
  • Lisa Garcia Bedolla, Associate Professor, University of California, Irvine, Intersections of Inequality: Race, Class and Gender in Politics
  • Carol C. Lam, Senior Vice-President, Legal Counsel, QUALCOMM Inc., Building Credibility: What Does It Take?
  • Sharon Majors-Lewis, Judicial Appointments Secretary to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Ronnee Schreiber, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University, Exploring Ideological Differences: Conservative Women Political Leaders

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Getting Elected and Staying In Office: Special Challenges Faced By Women (Part I)

  • Moderator: Susan Taylor, NBC 7/39 Anchor
  • Barbara Burrell, Professor, Northern Illinois University, Female Congressional Candidates in Open Seat Primaries and General
  • Donna Frye, San Diego City Councilwoman and former mayoral candidate, Special Challenges Facing Female Politicians
  • Midge Costanza, Former Assistant to President Jimmy Carter, Is the United States Ready For a Woman President? Obstacles Women Candidates Face in a Presidential Race
  • Lynn Schenk, Former Congresswoman, Is the United States Ready For a Woman President? Obstacles Women Candidates Face in a Presidential Race

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Lunch and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture

Barbara Palmer, Assistant Professor, American University,

Breaking the Political Glass Ceiling: Incumbency, Redistricting, and the Success of Women Candidates

2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Getting Elected and Staying in Office: Special Challenges Faced By Women (Part II)

  • Moderator: Gloria Penner, KPBS
  • Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego District Attorney, Tackling Gender Issues During a Campaign
  • Christine Kehoe, California State Senator, Women in Leadership Roles: Why Aren’t There More of Us?
  • Valerie O’Regan, Assistant Professor, Cal State Fullerton, Partisan Differences in the Nomination of Women to Office
  • Stephen Stambough, Associate Professor, Cal State Fullerton, Partisan Differences in the Nomination of Women to Office

3:45 – 5:15 p.m.

Assessing the Impact (If Any) of Gender on Decision – Making in Law and Politics

  • Moderator:  Norma Damashek, President, San Diego League of Women Voters
  • Dede Alpert, Former California State Senator, Having Women in Elective Office: Does It Make a Difference?
  • Karen P. Hewitt, United States Attorney, Women and Leadership: The Role of Federal Prosecutors in the Legal Community
  • Madhavi McCall, Associate Professor, San Diego State University, Structuring Gender’s Impact: Judicial Voting Across Criminal
  • Melinda Mueller, Professor, Eastern Illinois University, Gender Differences in the 2006 House Elections: The Effect of Gender and Rhetoric on the War in Iraq  

5:15 – 6:15 p.m.


Biographies of Women in the Law Panelists:

Senator Dede Alpert

Dede Alpert represented the San Diego region in the California State Legislature from 1991-2004, serving three terms in the Assembly and two in the Senate. She is widely recognized as one of the legislature’s foremost experts on public education.

Alpert chaired the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and the Joint Committee on the Master Plan for Education. She also chaired the Education Committees of both houses, the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, the Select Committee on Family, Child and Youth Development, and the Select Committee on Genetics, Genetic Technologies and Public Policy. She was appointed by two governors to serve as a member of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Pacific Fisheries Legislative Task Force.

The California Journal named Dede Alpert “Senator of the Year” in 2004 and named her the senator with the highest integrity in both 2000 and 2002. She was inducted into the California Tourism Hall of Fame, has been feted with Lifetime Achievement Awards by the California School Boards Association and the San Diego Domestic Violence Council, and was honored as “one of the extraordinary library advocates of the 20th century” by the American Library Association.

Lisa García Bedolla

Lisa García Bedolla is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Chicano/Latino Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University and her B.A. in Latin American Studies and Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

She is the author of Fluid Borders: Latino Power, Identity, and Politics in Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2005), which won the American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Award for the best book in political science on ethnic and cultural pluralism and a best book award from the American Political Science Association’s Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Politics, Politics and Gender, Latino Studies, the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, and in numerous edited volumes.

She has received fellowships and grants from the National Science Foundation, UCLA’s Institute of American Cultures, the James Irvine Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Huntington Library, and the American Political Science Association. Her research focuses on the political incorporation of Latinos and other racial/ethnic groups in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the intersection of race, class, and gender.

Barbara Burrell

Barbara Burrell received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and is a professor of Political Science and Associate Director of the Public Opinion Laboratory at Northern Illinois University where she teaches courses in public opinion, political behavior and women and politics. She is the author of A Woman’s Place Is in the House: Campaigning for Congress in the Feminist Era, (University of Michigan Press, 1994), as well as Public Opinion, the First Ladyship and Hillary Rodham Clinton (Routledge, 2001).

She has recently served as chair of NIU’s President’s Commission on the Status of Women, is the president of the Women’s Caucus for Political Science, and is a faculty associate in the Women’s Studies Program. Currently she is working on a sequel to her 1994 book on women’s campaigns for Congress which examines the campaigns of men and women for the U.S. House of Representatives from 1994 through 2006 that will be published by the University of Michigan Press and titled Gender in Campaigns for the U.S. Congress at the Millennium. She is also working on an Illinois Politics project that, among other facets, will reflect on the more than twenty years of survey data collected through the yearly Illinois Policy Surveys conducted by NIU’s Center for Governmental Studies.

Midge Costanza

Midge Costanza’s over 40 years in professional and public life have made her one of the most recognized and often controversial women in America. Her public service has been characterized by a strong social conscience and unwavering support of human rights and civil rights issues. Midge asserts that: “Human dignity is a right, not a privilege, a right inherited at birth. The goal of all governments should be to create a social environment in which every person can reach his or her human potential.”

In 1973, she was the first woman elected to the Rochester, N.Y. City Council; winning by the largest number of votes in the City’s history. She served as Vice-Mayor of that city for three years. Costanza co-managed Robert Kennedy’s successful Senatorial Campaign in Upstate New York and she co-chaired Jimmy Carter’s New York State Campaign for President.

Ms. Costanza seconded the nomination of Jimmy Carter in 1976 at the Democratic Convention. President Carter later made history by appointing Midge as Assistant to the President. She was the first woman to hold that position. Midge acted as a liaison between the President and groups who had previously experienced limited access to the executive office of government, including youth, women, seniors, veterans, minorities, and the handicapped. She also acted as his liaison to the Business Roundtable of America.

In 1987, attracted by Costanza’s talent as a business person, communicator, and innovator, Shirley MacLaine invited her to manage her “Higher Self Seminars.” In 1992, Midge coordinated the successful Barbara Boxer United States Senate Race in San Diego County. In that same year, she participated in Congresswoman Lynn Schenk’s campaign and was later appointed as a Special Consultant on the Congresswoman’s staff.

In April 2000, California Governor Gray Davis appointed Midge, Special Assistant to the Governor. She acted as Liaison to the Governor for women’s groups and issues, and she was a surrogate speaker for the Governor throughout the State.

In October 2004, Midge launched her Midge Costanza Institute for the Study of Politics and Public Policy. The Institute hosts a School for Candidate Training, access to archives for students, Speaker Series luncheons, and salons for monthly issue discussions. Midge is a member of the Board of Directors of San Diego National Bank, and is active in many San Diego Community organizations.

Midge has co-taught Political Communication and Women’s Studies at San Diego State University as a Visiting Scholar and Adjunct Professor. She also specializes in speaker training of corporate, political and professional speakers. Currently, Midge is serving as Public Affairs Officer in the area of Identity Theft and Elder Abuse in the Office of the San Diego District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis.

Bonnie M. Dumanis

Bonnie Dumanis is the first woman to serve as the District Attorney for San Diego County. Since taking office in January 2003, Ms. Dumanis has shown extraordinary leadership in several areas. With public safety as her top priority, her office has focused on crime prevention, reducing recidivism, helping victims and keeping the office transparent and accessible to the people of San Diego County.

Under Ms. Dumanis’ direction, the office helped write and pass California’s Proposition 83, known as Jessica’s Law. This new law tightens restrictions on child molesters and sexually violent predators and makes California one of the toughest states in the nation in dealing with these offenders.

Ms. Dumanis also initiated a major reorganization of an office structure that had not seen change for more than three decades. She surrounds herself with an experienced, knowledgeable, and diverse management team. Her second-in-command, Assistant District Attorney Jesse Rodriguez, is the highest ranking Hispanic to serve in the office. Ms. Dumanis leads an office of more than 1,000 employees, including more than 300 attorneys and 150-plus investigators. Bonnie is committed to promotions based on merit and performance and has implemented an effective employee training and recognition program.

Donna Frye

A successful business owner with a bachelor’s degree in business, Donna Frye has served the public and City of San Diego as a Councilmember since 2001. During her tenure, Frye has distinguished herself as an independent thinker who fights relentlessly for an open and honest government that is accountable to the public. For her work, Senator Christine Kehoe honored her in Sacramento as the 2004 Woman of the Year.

Councilmember Frye chairs the Natural Resources and Culture Committee and serves on both the Budget & Finance Committee and Rules Committee. She is also the Chair of the Mission Bay Technical Advisory Committee and the San Diego River Conservancy.

Frye believes the role of government is to serve the public and improve the quality of life for all members of the community. To that end, she works to provide residents with improved core city services such as parks, recreation centers, libraries, police, fire, streets, sidewalks, and sewer and water infrastructure. The Bayside Community Center recognized Frye’s work by naming her the 2002 Community Leader of the Year.

Karen Hewitt

Karen P. Hewitt was originally appointed as the interim United States Attorney for the Southern District of California by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and took the oath of office on February 16, 2007. Ms. Hewitt was appointed United States Attorney by the United States District Court for the Southern District of California on October 10, 2007. She was sworn in on October 15, 2007, by the Honorable Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge of the United States District Court. Ms. Hewitt has served as an attorney in the United States Department of Justice since 1992. Upon joining the Department, Ms. Hewitt was assigned to the Civil Division, Constitutional and Specialized Torts Section, in Washington, D.C., where she litigated hundreds of civil cases on behalf of the United States.

In 2000, Ms. Hewitt became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of California. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Ms. Hewitt has represented the United States, its agencies, and individual law enforcement officers in complex civil actions, involving Constitutional claims, Immigration, Torts, Medical Malpractice and Employment Discrimination. From 2003 to 2006, she served as the Deputy Chief of the Civil Division and also supervised the Office’s Affirmative Civil Fraud Unit, which handles prosecution of Defense Procurement Fraud and Health Care Fraud. In January 2006, Ms. Hewitt was selected by former U.S. Attorney Carol C. Lam to serve as the Southern District of California’s Executive Assistant United States Attorney. In the position of third-in-command, Ms. Hewitt was responsible for the overall supervision of approximately 110 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and 120 Support Staff members, including criminal and civil case management, administration, budget, hiring, personnel and ethics.

Ms. Hewitt received her undergraduate degree in 1986 from of the University of California, Berkeley, and her law degree in 1989 from the University of San Diego, School of Law. Before joining the Justice Department, Ms. Hewitt was an attorney with the former San Diego law firm of McInnis, Fitzgerald, Rees, Sharkey and McIntyre from 1989 to 1992.

Senator Christine Kehoe

Christine was elected to the State Senate on November 2, 2004, to represent the 39th Senate District. She previously served two terms in the State Assembly and served as Speaker Pro Tempore. From 1993 to 2000, she was on the San Diego City Council representing San Diego’s Third District. Christine also served on the California Coastal Commission from 1997 to 2000.

Senator Kehoe chairs the State Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. During her first year in the State Assembly she carried the largest energy conservation bill package in the state’s history. Last year, she chaired the Senate’s Local Government Committee where she sponsored the most important redevelopment reform bill in more than a decade.

Senator Kehoe is a member of many committees including: the Senate Committee on Budget & Fiscal Review, Natural Resources & Water, Transportation & Housing, Local Government, the Governor’s Broadband Task Force, the California Cultural and Historical Endowment, and the Sea Grant Advisory Panel. She also serves on the Select Committees on Defense and Aerospace Industry, the Natural Resources and Water’s Subcommittee on Delta Resources, the Joint Committee on the Arts, and the Select Committee on Coastal Protection and Watershed Conservation.

Carol C. Lam

Carol C. Lam is a Senior Vice-President and Legal Counsel at QUALCOMM, Incorporated in San Diego, California. From 2002 to 2007, she was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California. Prior to her confirmation as United States Attorney, Ms. Lam was a judge of the Superior Court in San Diego, where she presided over a criminal trial calendar. From 1986 to 2000, she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of California, where she was Chief of the Major Frauds Section. As a federal prosecutor, Ms. Lam convicted several high ranking members of the Chicago organized crime family La Cosa Nostra, obtained a guilty plea and a civil settlement of $110 million from National Health Laboratories, Inc. in a Medicare fraud case, and briefed and argued the first appellate case upholding the constitutionality of “roving” wiretaps.

As a federal prosecutor, Ms. Lam received both the Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney, and the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service. In 2007, she was named one of California’s Top 100 Attorneys, and one of California’s Top 75 Women Litigators by the Los Angeles Daily Journal, as well as Outstanding Attorney of the Year by the San Diego County Bar Association.

Ms. Lam received her B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University in 1981, and graduated from Stanford Law School in 1985. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Irving R. Kaufman of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Madhavi McCall

Madhavi McCall is an Associate Professor of Political Science at San Diego State University. She received her B.A. from Case Western Reserve University in 1989, her M.A. from the University of Akron in 1993, and her Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1999.

Dr. McCall’s research concentrates on analyzing the determinates of judicial behavior on state supreme courts as well as the United States Supreme Court. Dr. McCall’s work on state courts recently lead to an invitation to participate in The Sandra Day O’Connor State of the Judiciary Project: State Courts – The Debate on Judicial Selections and Elections hosted by Justices O’Connor and Breyer. Recent publications include articles in American Politics Research, Social Science Journal, Quinnipiac Law Review, Akron Law Review, and Judicature.

Melinda A. Mueller

Melinda Mueller received her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Rochester, specializing in American Politics, Public Policy, and Research Methods. Since 1995, she has been a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL. Professor Mueller teaches courses on the Presidency, Interest Groups, Environmental Politics, and Congress; she has also been recognized with a teaching award four times in the past decade. Dr. Mueller research centers in on the area of women candidates in U.S. elections, and she has presented several papers on this topic, as well as a book chapter in Engaging the Public: How the Government and Media Can Reinvigorate American Democracy. Her current research focuses on gender differences in campaign messages, particularly regarding the war in Iraq.

Valerie O’Regan

Valerie O’Regan is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at California State University, Fullerton. Her research focuses on gender studies and comparative politics. Her publications include the book Gender Matters: Female Policymakers’ Influence in Industrialized Nations and several articles in leading journals. Her current research examines the effect of novelty and the media on the success of female gubernatorial candidates.

Barbara Palmer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecturer

Barbara Palmer is an expert on congressional elections and the success of women candidates. She is the co-author of Breaking the Political Glass Ceiling, with Dennis Simon of Southern Methodist University, a book that explores how incumbency and redistricting shape the integration of women into Congress. One of the general themes is that over time, drawing districts to protect incumbents has had the unintended consequence of helping Democratic women get elected, while making it more difficult for Republican women to win their primaries. In fact, out of 435 House districts, over 150 are unlikely to ever elect a woman of either party.

As a professor at American University, Palmer has given interviews and invited talks to a wide variety of groups across the country on the integration of women into Congress, elections and the success of female candidates, and the history of women in the judiciary. Her work has appeared in American Political Science Review, Politics and Gender, and a wide variety of law reviews. She has taught courses on women and politics, American politics, and public law. In the spring of 2005, she received the Alice Paul Award for her commitment to women’s issues and mentoring young women. She has been interviewed by the Washington Post, Minnesota Public Radio, the San Francisco Examiner, and the Voice of America.

Lynn Schenk

Lynn Schenk is a former member of the House of Representatives, serving from 1993-1995, and was Chief of Staff to California Governor Gray Davis from 1999 to 2003. As Chief of Staff to the Governor, she oversaw the day to day operations of state government through the 12 Cabinet agencies and more than 75 departments and offices. She managed the Governor’s office staff of about 200, and had the homeland security office, the National Guard, and the Office of Emergency Services report directly to her. In addition, she was the Governor’s chief executive and top policy advisor.

Ms. Schenk has combined many years of private sector experience with public service. She has practiced general business law in San Diego, co-founded a community bank, was “special counsel” to a large international law firm, and has served on the Board of Directors of several publicly traded companies. She has been deeply involved in the San Diego community as a civic volunteer as well, serving as Commissioner (and Vice-Chair of the Board) of the San Diego Unified Port District. She has served on numerous other boards and commissions, including the San Diego Symphony and the Red Cross. Her contributions have been recognized with many awards and honors.

Lynn earned a B.A. from UCLA, a Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego School of Law, and did post-law school graduate work at the London School of Economics.

Ronnee Schreiber

Ronnee Schreiber joined the SDSU Political Science Department in 2002. She earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University and an M.A. in Women’s Studies from George Washington University. Schreiber’s research interests are in the area of women and politics; particularly women in American political institutions and women and public policy. She teaches courses in women and politics, American institutions, and public law.

Schreiber is currently working on a book about national conservative women’s organizations. This book examines how conservative women at the elite level seek legitimacy as representatives of women’s interests. She received two funding awards for this research — from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP).

Schreiber has also published work on conservative women’s organizations in the journal Sex Roles and in an edited volume entitled Right-Wing Women, Bacchetta and Power (eds.). In addition she has co-authored pieces on feminist organizations and women in Congress in Feminist Organizations, Ferree and Martin (eds.) and Women, Media and Politics, Norris, (ed.), respectively.

Prior to becoming a graduate student at Rutgers, Schreiber worked as a lobbyist and political organizer for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the American Association of University Women. While a graduate student, she served on the Board of Directors of the Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey and as a research associate for the Center for American Women and Politics.

Stephen Stambough

Dr. Stephen J. Stambough is an Associate Professor of Political Science at California State University, Fullerton where he serves as Director of the Cal State DC Internship Program. His research focuses on election behavior specializing in gender and state elections. He has published articles in many leading journals and is the editor or a book entitled Initiative-Centered Politics. His current research concerns the dynamics of female gubernatorial campaigns with a focus on reactions of the voters, the media, and partisan differences towards female candidates for governor.

Minimum Continuing Legal Education Credit (MCLE):

MCLE credit is available upon request. Thomas Jefferson School of Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider. This program qualifies for Minimum Continuing Legal Education credit by the State Bar of California in the five (5) hours of which one (1) hour will apply to Elimination of Bias.