“When you first meet Sandra, you think: ‘What a pretty little thing.’ Next, you think: ‘My, it’s got a personality, too.’”
O’Connor had to decide which social conventions to keep and which to toss. She decided to keep wearing dresses, but here are two “rules” she flouted:
- Women should be seen and not heard. Appointed to the boards of trustees for both Stanford University and a renowned Native American art museum, O’Connor jumped right in on board discussions instead of sitting back in silence until she could absorb how the men on the board interacted.
- Women should obey the rules of etiquette. During a Navajo/Hopi land tussle the U.S. government was involved in, O’Connor wrote to U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater urging a delay in action until after an upcoming election. O’Connor either didn’t know about or ignored trouble between Goldwater and the Navajo chief.
After Goldwater sent a pointed reply, O’Connor remained unflappable, agreeing in her return letter with his position without acknowledging her gaffe or apologizing.
—Adapted from Sandra Day O’Connor, Joan Biskupic, HarperCollins.