From Petticoats to Briefs: History of Women at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

Publication Date

Summer 2004

Document Type



The story of women in American society has largely been defined and recorded by men and the institutions that men have dominated for most of the past two hundred-odd years. Women have been denied access to education, employment, political power and other benefits of social intercourse by exclusion, intimidation, ridicule and patronization. The experience of women in law school is one part of that experience. Law school is an arduous undertaking whether one is male or female. Gaining admission to modern law schools requires talent and demonstrated academic performance in a competitive environment. But in the nineteenth century, the foremost hurdle for women to overcome was her gender. Women could become law students at some, but not all, law schools, but were denied opportunities to practice law after graduation. For the better part of this country's history, a woman could not vote, enter into a contract, be seated on a jury, obtain custody of their children, or enjoy many of the rights and privileges extended to the male citizen. Women were not welcome in the practicing bar, even in jurisdictions that legally permitted women to be licensed attorneys. The purpose of this article is to record that part of the history of the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law that pertains to women law students and graduates of the school, and to place that experience in a broader national context.

Publication Title

University of Missouri Kansas City Law Review