Celebrating Wisconsin's trailblazers - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Celebrating Wisconsin's trailblazers

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WAUSAU (WAOW)--Some of Wisconsin's most inspiring women gathered at the Grand Wednesday night. From news anchors to lawyers to Supreme Court Justices, each has blazed a trail in their own way.

The night's two speakers were no exception. Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Shirley Abrahamson spoke about the history of law in Wisconsin, but their own stories are just as inspiring.

"When I started law school, only about four percent of all the lawyers in the country were women. And we were just a handful of women in the law school," said Chief Justice Abrahamson. In 1976, she became the first female Supreme Court Justice in Wisconsin. She is now Chief Justice, and the longest serving justice in the country.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley said her road to Madison was not easy. She worked as an attorney and Circuit Court Judge during a time when being a female in either of those professions was rare. "There I was a young, upstart woman entering into the world of give and take and sometimes vigorous arguments of a court room," said Bradley.

Newsline 9 anchor Melissa Langbehn struggled with being a female in a male-dominated industry. "Physically there were a lot of challenges because when I started we had to one-man-band and the gear was probably about 50 pounds to carry around," she said.

But Langbehn didn't let that or a hearing impairment keep her from reporting.

DC Everest students spent the past three years compiling interviews for "Wisconsin Women: Celebrating their Contributions." It is the 21st oral history project students have published. Both middle school and high school students compiled the interviews. Editor Suzanne Phalen said some weeks she spent 80 hours transcribing the inspirational stories.

"Many people don't know what women have gone through to get the equality that we have today," said Phalen.

Students said the entire project inspired them to achieve more. A lesson echoed by Justice Bradley. "You really have to work hard, study hard in trying to seek your goal."

Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton

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