Speaking in a Penn class, the lawyer also discussed sexual harrassment. Trying to spark an activist spirit in young women, Anita Hill spoke to a Communications class focused on women and leadership last night, urging the mostly female attendees to fight for gender equality. Hill, a 43-year-old lawyer, gained notoriety in 1991 when she accused Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, of sexual harassment and testified about it during his Senate confirmation hearings. She came to Philadelphia primarily to endorse her old friend from law school, Democratic senatorial hopeful Tom Foley. While in town, she made an appearance at an undergraduate class titled "Empowering Women Leaders in Emerging Democracies" to discuss issues of women's rights and female participation in the political process. Hill said she was afraid that the public criticism she received back in 1991 would discourage others from coming forward in similar situations. "I thought that women would retreat," she said to the approximately 35 audience members, but added that, "In fact, what happened was quite the opposite." Hill asserted that in the aftermath of her accusations against Thomas, women began to run for political office and report sexual harassment in higher numbers. Although the class Hill addressed has about 20 students enrolled in it, her considerable name recognition also attracted a number of outsiders and members of the local news media. Audience members responded well to Hill's speech and were eager to discuss her experiences and ask for advice on coping with harassment situations. "When I heard that Anita Hill was coming to campus, my memory of the hearings stood out in my mind," College sophomore Caitlin Anderson said. "I thought it was great. I thought it was inspiring," she continued. Most audience members vividly remembered the hearings and Hill noted that she was surprised that such a young audience was aware of her role in sexual harassment history. "I'm not sure that anyone knew of the impact that the hearings would have," Hill said. Hill also advised the female audience members on how to deal with sexual harassment when they encounter it. "You have to know who you can talk to," she said. Hill also suggested that before taking a job, one should know the employer's sexual harassment policy.Comments powered by Disqus
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