Welcome to Winthrop& Weinstine’s annual celebration of successful women in business here at the American Swedish Institute. We look forward to networking and enjoying good food with you.
My name is Tiffany Blofield and I began my career as a lawyer twenty years ago and started at Winthrop& Weinstine eighteen years ago. When asked to speak tonight, I recalled my early experiences of networking with other women. The main avenue for networking with women lawyers at that time was the Minnesota Women Lawyers’ events. There was one event held by the organization that also invited women in the medical profession.
The most memorable Minnesota Women Lawyers’ Event that I attended was with my colleague and friend Laura Pfeiffer, who is here tonight. The event involved meeting a woman whom we both admired – Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. As a litigator, I have a great deal of respect for the United States Supreme Court. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Upon meeting her, I was a bit awestruck. It was the first – and last – time that I can recall being speechless. When Justice O’Connor asked what law school I graduated from, after a long pause, I finally found my voice and responded to her that I had attended the University of Minnesota Law School.
By way of background about Justice O’Connor, when she graduated from law school, at least forty law firms refused to even interview her for a position as an attorney because she was a woman. She eventually found employment as a deputy county attorney in San Mateo, California, but only after she offered to work for no salary and without an office, instead sharing space with a secretary. Women lawyers have come a long way since then.
In the twenty years I have been working, I have developed a network of women friends – many are in this room – who are leaders and connectors in a variety of fields, including banking, law, accounting, marketing, writing, advertising, branding, design and public relations. It is an exciting time for women.
Several weeks ago, a successful female friend of mine in the public relations industry recommended that I read the book Lean In written by Sheryl Sandberg, who is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. The premise of this book is that women are better off now than ever before, but men still run the world. Some of this is due to the way we as women have held ourselves back and how society continues to view women leaders. The book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth.
Lean In has been described as a book destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can do. I must admit that I am only on page fifty of the book. However, I am looking forward to finishing it before my book club meets next month where I am sure a lively discussion will follow. We have copies of a summary of Lean In at the table by the gift bags if you would like a copy. It is important to have books like this in the national spotlight – books that are focused on gaining equality for women and continuing to have women advance as leaders.
Men have had their “old boys’ network” for a long time, but I refuse to call our developing network the “old girls’ network,” and instead have dubbed it the “fabulous girls’ network.” Please enjoy each others’ company and some good food as you expand your own “fabulous girls’ network.”
Finally, I want to thank you again for taking the time to be here, supporting women in the work force and supporting us. Have a great time!