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Women Rule at Oakland Courthouse

By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 11, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Beyoncé lives in an alternate reality filled with couture and yachts and talent and fabulousness. Most lawyers -- and judges -- do not share that world.

But at the federal courthouse in Oakland, Queen B's words about girls running the world ring true. All six judges at the federal courthouse in Oakland are proud members of the XX-chromosome club, according to The California Report.

Over in fair Oakland, there are four Article III judges -- Saundra Brown Armstrong, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, Phyllis J. Hamilton, and Claudia Wilken -- and two Magistrate Judges -- Donna M. Ryu and Kandis A. Westmore. Judge Wilken is also the Chief District Judge.

In a time when everyone wants to talk about Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's new mission to develop women as leaders, these women are proof female mentorship can make a difference. The California Report explains:

Altogether there are six judges at the federal courthouse in Oakland. Not a single one thought as a little girl that she would be a judge. Most thought "lawyer." One judge is a former corporate lawyer. Another was a government lawyer ... Invariably, somebody else suggested the idea of donning judges robes. "I had all of these seasoned women judges and attorneys who I really looked up to, saying 'Come on, move on. You've got to do this. This is important,'" said Judge Gonzalez Rogers. "So, I ultimately did put it an application."

The judges are champions for the cause of gender parity on the bench, but Judge Ryu says that there must first be gender parity at firms. She praised Bar Association of San Francisco for its diversity task force that studies practices and barriers to equality within law firms.

It may take time before women run this motha the legal sector, but the Oakland federal courthouse is one place where there's been progress.

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