A Toast to Women in Tax
By Julie Treppa with contributions by Sabrina Johnson1
Jessica Bennett’s book, The Feminist Fight Club starts with this quote from Shirley Chisholm, the first African American women elected to the US Congress: "Prepare for Battle. The law cannot do it for us. We must do it for ourselves. Women in this country must become revolutionaries." Those of us attending "A Toast to Women in Tax" at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the California Tax Bar and California Tax Policy Conference had the fortunate opportunity to meet two of these women revolutionaries, Honorable L. Paige Marvel, Chief Judge of the US Tax Court and Karen L. Hawkins, Attorney-at-law with Hawkins Law and former Director of the Office of Professional responsibility of the Internal Revenue Service. The topic of the evening regarded taking risks in your career development. At the conclusion of the evening, there was no doubt that these women took many risks and embraced new challenges throughout their careers. More evident was the fact that their accomplishments helped pave the way for many of us women who are trying to function as the "Tax Guy" at our law firms.
The highlight of the evening for me was when Judge Marvel introduced herself to me. She said I could call her "Paige." I doubt I will ever address her as Paige in person, but it is nice to know I can and, for the purposes of this article, I will. I did not need to be introduced to Karen, as I had met her many years ago when I was a law student attending my first meeting of the San Francisco Women Tax Lawyers. I has been equally thrilled with that introduction as she was kind enough to speak with the one student attending this event.
It comes as no surprise that both women are highly educated. Paige was the first in her family to go to college. Her education was funded, in part, by her mother winning the trifecta at a horse race, the first evidence of risk taking, Paige joked. Paige graduated magna cum laude from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and went on to receive her J.D. with honors from the University of Maryland School of Law. Her graduating law school class had the largest percentage of women at the time, more than twenty percent. Paige recounted that the law school dean did not like that development and told the women students that they were "taking up a man’s space." The women in that class did well and had to work hard to make their position in the class credible.