IN SACRAMENTO, there is a men's club that had a long tradition of giving honorary memberships to newly appointed members of the California Supreme Court. That court had a long tradition of its own. For 127 years, its members had all been white men. In March 1977, both traditions ended. Simultaneously, I became the first woman appointed to the court and the first justice not to receive an honorary club membership. As a result, the only way I could join the court at lunch was to wait to be personally invited by one of my male colleagues who had been made a member.

That was not all. Although my colleagues were addressed in public as "Justice," I was often called "Rose." Following this lead, some in the press began to refer to the court as "Rosie and the Supremes." I suppose that was preferable to "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," another favorite. Once, I was even introduced by a trial judge to an amused audience of lawyers as the chief justice with the "cutest butt."

Surprising? Not really, considering the way our society historically has regarded the role of women and how our legal system has reflected that view. My experiences only mirrored a harsh national reality: In this year of our Constitution's bicentennial, "We the people" are not yet at a point where the fundamental promise of equality for women is a legal fact. The ringing declaration that "all men are created equal" did not apply to women by its very terms. And while it is true that there has been progress toward equality over the past two centuries, there is no denying that situations such as the one I faced in Sacramento continue to arise with disturbing regularity, and the underlying attitudes that cause them remain relatively unchanged. We still haven't decided as a people whether women, as well as men, are "created equal."

The decisions of our courts for almost 200 years have ensured that the pendulum continues to swing back and forth on whether women need protection (which often means the denial of rights) due to their "inherent nature." Today, it is long since time for that pendulum to stop. Women can and do speak for themselves. They need the law to treat them neither as wards nor as outsiders. They merely ask that the law treat them as it should treat everyone else -- with equality.

Women were not even mentioned in the Constitution. They were perceived as man's helpmate, not individuals with free choice and individual rights. One of our most eminent and enlightened forefathers summed up the prevalent attitude of that day. "Were our state a pure democracy, there would still be excluded from our deliberations . . . women, who, to prevent depravation of morals and ambiguity of issues, should not mix promiscuously in gatherings of men." Apparently, even Thomas Jefferson's enlightenment was not without its limitations. And he clearly voiced the views of his time.

Since our system of justice was based on English common law, it is not startling that women had so few rights. The words of Blackstone, the great 18th-century British legal commentator, are instructive: "{T}he very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage." Under that set of laws, women were "civilly dead" when they entered the state of holy matrimony.

Women, however, were not totally silent on the subject of their rights. When Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John in March of 1776, she pleaded with him to "Remember the Ladies." It was her thought that "all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation."

When a Women's Rights Convention was held in 1850 in Salem, Ohio, J. Elizabeth Jones spoke of "The Wrongs of Women." "The very first act of this nation," she asserted, "was to deprive a majority of those whom it claimed the right to govern, of any lot or part in the government -- its very birth-cry was a denial of women's equality."

Despite such good cause for "Rebelion," the history of the women's movement for equal rights in this country has been a graphic illustration of the belief that law can help change social attitudes. Women believed in the essential promise of an inclusive, rather than an exclusive, society if the spirit of its laws and Constitution was truly given substance. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. has articulated that promise well. "{T}he Constitution embodies the aspiration to social justice, brotherhood, and human dignity that brought this nation into being." However, he hastened to add that "part of this egalitarianism in America has been more pretension than realized fact."

The fact that women were not included in that original document only points up the difficulty they have faced in their attempt to gain a measure of recognition and independence. The words of the Constitution articulate an ideal of equality, but it has taken many, many years for our society to accept the ramifications of that original promise. As E.L. Doctorow recently noted, "The undeviating logic of a Constitution in the name of the people is that the privilege of life under its domain is equitable, which is to say, universal. That you cannot have democracy only for yourself or your club or your class or your church or your clan or your color or your sex, for then the word doesn't mean what it says."

Over the years, the courts have articulated both the "delicacy" and the "toughness" of women as a basis for the denial of many rights and privileges accorded to men. In 1872, the asserted frailty and inequality of women compared with men were used by the Supreme Court as a rationale for denying a woman a license to practice law in Bradwell vs. Illinois. The alleged strength and equality of women vis-a`-vis men served as the high court's rationale for denying women a guaranteed minimum wage in Adkins vs. Children's Hospital in 1923.

In interpreting the Constitution, the courts are still debating whether discrimination based on "biology" alone is permissible while that which is "cultural" is not. The cases speak in terms of "classifications" and whether they are "substantially related" to a governmental interest that is "important." Legal terminology notwithstanding, the court decisions mirror the debate that is going on in the larger community regarding equality between women and men. That debate has been complicated by the prevalence of such divisive subjects as abortion, legitimacy, contraception and surrogate motherhood. These issues involve not only one's view of women and their role in our society, but deep-seated religious and ethical notions as well that tend to divide rather than unite people. And so the judicial system has been slow to act in an area fraught with so many decision-making perils.

After the Bradwell court denied a woman the right to practice law because of her "delicate nature," it took almost a century for the Supreme Court to invalidate a statute because it discriminated against women. The court's work was made more difficult by the fact that the 19th Amendment spoke only in terms of women's right to vote, so the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution had to be invoked to reach other types of discrimination against women.

Without a clear mandate in the Constitution -- such as that which the Equal Rights Amendment would have provided -- the courts have struggled to create theories on which to grant or deny relief to litigants who claim a violation of their rights based on their sex. The adoption by Congress of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 finally provided some statutory authority for the granting of relief.

Title VII, for example, makes it an "unlawful employment practice" to refuse to hire or to discharge an individual or to discriminate in the area of compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. An employer may not segregate or classify employes or applicants for employment so as to deprive a person of employment opportunities.

The creation of these statutory provisions, however, has proved to be no panacea. Indeed, the courts are still wrestling with the sweep of these laws. For example, in March, the Supreme Court held in Johnson vs. Transportation Agency that Title VII was not violated when an affirmative action plan was implemented to ensure that qualified women were given an opportunity to work as skilled craftspersons. None of the 238 positions in question was or had ever been held by a woman.

The court held that this attempt to rectify a particular imbalance did not contravene the statute, since the agency implementing the plan had sought a moderate, gradual approach to improving the representation of women and minorities in its work force. In other words, as the court had earlier held in the area of race, Title VII does not prohibit an affirmative action plan that is (1) "designed to break down old patterns of {sexual} segregation and hierarchy"; (2) "does not unnecessarily trammel the interests of the {male} employees"; (3) "does not require the discharge of {male} workers and their replacement with new {female} hirees"; (4) "does {not} create an absolute bar to the advancement of {male} employees"; and (5) "is a temporary measure . . . not intended to maintain {sexual} balance, but simply to eliminate a manifest {sexual} imbalance."

The Johnson case is an encouraging sign, but remnants of the past still remain. One of the dissenters, for example, turns the import of Title VII on its head and in essence seems to hold women responsible for the status quo. Because of "longstanding social attitudes," he asserts, the type of job in question "has not been regarded by women themselves as desirable work." The implication is that the situation cannot be corrected until women's attitudes change. How neat, yet how impossible to ever attempt as a society to overcome past discrimiation that is deeply imbedded in our social fabric. And so the modest plan at issue in Johnson for correcting historical inequities becomes in this dissenting jurist's mind nothing less than a "powerful engine of racism and sexism"!

One commentator, Ruth Sedler, has noted that "legal change alone cannot bring about social change." However, she asserts, it should not be forgotten that if "sexual equality is declared to be an officially approved societal value, the law will not, as it does now, perpetuate the subordinate position of women but to the contrary can be used affirmatively to help accelerate social change." Isn't that what the Equal Rights Amendment was all about? It spoke directly to the issue. "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." The fundamental principle embodied in that amendment is that the legal rights of men and women should not be determined by an accident of birth. Each individual should be given the opportunity to develop his or her unique qualities and capabilities. The amendment does not ask that women be "protected" or accorded special rights. It speaks of men and women as equals, neither receiving preference.

One of the complications in achieving the goals set forth in the Equal Rights Amendment is the fact that the discrimination experienced by women in their daily lives is partly based on their economic condition. It is estimated that by the 1990s almost half of our working population will women. This remarkable fact reflects a true transition in our society. However, the path that has brought women into the work force has been a long and difficult one.

An examination of women's struggle for acceptance in the legal profession gives some insight into the range of problems encountered. It reflects in microcosm the larger struggle of all women in this country to secure equal rights. Nationwide during the 1970s, the percentage of women attorneys and judges nearly tripled, and the percentage of women graduating from law school increased sixfold. These figures stand in stark contrast to the situation facing women a little over a century ago, when the Supreme Court held that a state could refuse to grant women a license to practice law.

In California, a courageous woman named Clara Shortridge Foltz managed to convince the legislature, the governor and the state Supreme Court in the late 1870s that she should be able to attend the state university law school and practice law. She was denied admission to the law school by the directors, one of whom happened to be California's first chief justice. He wrote her that it "would be unwise to receive her, her presence, in {their} judgment, being calculated to distract the attention of the male students."

She challenged this denial in the justice's own court and won her case. After her oral argument one of the justices commented, "You are not only a good mother; you are a good lawyer."

But the story does not end there. Foltz finally managed to practice law, but it was to be before male judges and juries. Nationally, as late as 1961, our high court unanimously held that there was no violation of the Constitution's guarantee of due process or equal protection in limiting the circumstances under which women could serve as jurors. Although such limitations were removed in 1975, a tragic result of this exclusionary policy was that for nearly two centuries, the legal profession and the judiciary remained bastions of male supremacy. Only men were allowed to participate in the public administration of our judicial system. Even today -- in this year of our bicentennial -- there are only 935 women jurists in this country.

An example from my own experience as the first woman on the California Supreme Court is illustrative. In 1977, one of the first acts I had to perform in my new role as chief justice was to attend the annual court luncheon given by a lawyers' club in Los Angeles. That club, like the one in Sacramento and several others in the state, had never had a woman member. I was the only woman present at the club's luncheon. When I rose to speak, I addressed the assembled legal Brahmins using humor and verse to make my point:

Women members, it's been said, you simply do not take

Unless, of course, they've been hired to jump out of a cake.

I completed my remarks with this observation:

If women are treated as second class within our shared profession,

Where will you choose to cease the exercise of that discretion?

I cannot believe we want to have a world with people who,

Would more than gladly allocate separate but equal status to

Any race, religion or way of life that was not like their own

For in such a world each person must live separately, but equally, alone.

The fact is that sexism remains a part of our culture, and the courts are no more immune from it than are any other institutions within our society. That does not mean, however, that judges must suffer it gladly, and several state judicial systems have taken steps to address this problem directly. During my tenure as chief justice, for example, I established a special task force that has taken a number of steps to help make California's courtrooms an environment free from sexual and racial bias. Some of the areas under review for gender bias are the employment practices for judicial branch employes; the selection of court-appointed counsel at the trial and appellate levels; the language and pattern of jury instructions; the compilation of data on the disparate sentencing of male and female offenders in juvenile and adult courts; the development of methods to overcome gender bias in the courtroom behavior of judges, counsel, court personnel, and witnesses; and the development and implementation of training programs and judicial education on the subject of sex discrimination.

Sexism still exists in our society, however, and in combination with the economic disadvantages women continue to face in the work force, it imposes a formidable barrier to true equality. We should not forget that the poor economic condition of women is, in part, a reflection of constitutional inferiority.

Writing in the Yale Law Journal, Anne E. Freedman describes women's economic and social conditions in this decade. "Women are segregated into low-paying, low-status jobs; under-represented in political institutions and processes; saddled with large amounts of unpaid and often tedious work in the home; and subject to crippling stereotyping and channeling from early infancy through adulthood."

The statistics bear out the starkness of her word picture. Last year, women made up less than 5 percent of Congress. A recent study of individuals with doctorate degrees indicates that in every scientific field, women earn less than men. Women scientists' and engineers' salaries are 32 percent lower than men's.

The business world is not markedly different. At the highest echelons, as the Los Angeles Times noted last year, only one woman heads a Fortune 500 company. Although the number of women on the boards of the top 1,000 companies in the United States has tripled in the last 10 years, there are as yet only 439 of them.

A recent study indicates that female executives earn approximately 20 percent less than their male counterparts. What is even more disturbing is the fact that women in these positions were earning less than they had been two years earlier, with male executives averaging $40,500 a year compared with $32,000 for female executives.

Nearly 80 percent of our female work force is segregated into clerical, service, unskilled industrial and retail occupations. Even in occupations that historically have been considered to be "women's work," the men in those fields tend to be better paid. For example, in 1980 the median income of women working in clerical occupations was only 61 percent of that of men. Overall, women earn only 64 cents for every dollar earned by men.

The most recent figures seem to indicate that while white men are improving their economic conditions, a new class of poor people is being created in America. The "new poor" of today are women and their children caught in a vicious cycle of poverty. Two out of every three adults classified as "poor" are women. In households headed by a female, one out of every two preschool children lives in poverty. There are now 9.9 million households headed by women.

The true challenge ahead is to ensure that the women's movement is a grass-roots movement with equal concern for all women, not just those advancing to the highly paid, most clearly visible white-collar positions at the top. The successful advancement of a few women to these positions should serve as a challenge to us not to settle for a mere cosmetic touch and a type of tokenism. Women today play a role in every aspect of our national life. And that is why they are in such an excellent position to make a special contribution to our society in these final years of the 20th century. They can speak out from the barrios to the board rooms about the need for human dignity and mutual respect. They can touch our society at every level and make their presence felt. That represents a remarkable opportunity, and I would like to see women confidently and increasingly provide that sort of leadership.

As a nation, we need to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment and soon. For every time we strike a blow against one form of discrimination, we help sound the death knell for other types of discrimination. That is why advances in women's and minority rights have often gone hand in hand. That is why the elimination of stereotypes about women also betokens the elimination of stereotypes about men. Surely, the liberation of women is also the liberation of men.

Although we have not yet achieved equal rights within our society, we have come a long way since 1787. But it will take a vigilant eye and a resolute will to make certain that the last century of achievement for women is only the starting point for an even better future -- a future in which the words of our Constitution will truly speak for "We the people," and a future in which all men and all women will be seen as truly "created equal."

The decisions of our courts for almost 200 years have ensured that the pendulum continues to swing back and forth on whether women need protection (which often means the denial of rights) due to their "inherent nature." Today, it is long since time for that pendulum to stop. Women can and do speak for themselves. They need the law to treat them neither as wards nor as outsiders. They merely ask that the law treat them as it should treat everyone else -- with equality.

Women were not even mentioned in the Constitution. They were perceived as man's helpmate, not individuals with free choice and individual rights. One of our most eminent and enlightened forefathers summed up the prevalent attitude of that day. "Were our state a pure democracy, there would still be excluded from our deliberations . . . women, who, to prevent depravation of morals and ambiguity of issues, should not mix promiscuously in gatherings of men." Apparently, even Thomas Jefferson's enlightenment was not without its limitations. And he clearly voiced the views of his time.

Since our system of justice was based on English common law, it is not startling that women had so few rights. The words of Blackstone, the great 18th-century British legal commentator, are instructive: "The very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage." Under that set of laws, women were "civilly dead" when they entered the state of holy matrimony.

Women, however, were not totally silent on the subject of their rights. When Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John in March of 1776, she pleaded with him to "Remember the Ladies." It was her thought that "all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation."

When a Women's Rights Convention was held in 1850 in Salem, Ohio, J. Elizabeth Jones spoke of "The Wrongs of Women." "The very first act of this nation," she asserted, "was to deprive a majority of those whom it claimed the right to govern, of any lot or part in the government -- its very birth-cry was a denial of women's equality."

Despite such good cause for "Rebelion," the history of the women's movement for equal rights in this country has been a graphic illustration of the belief that law can help change social attitudes. Women believed in the essential promise of an inclusive, rather than an exclusive, society if the spirit of its laws and Constitution was truly given substance. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. has articulated that promise well. "The Constitution embodies the aspiration to social justice, brotherhood, and human dignity that brought this nation into being." However, he hastened to add that "part of this egalitarianism in America has been more pretension than realized fact."

The fact that women were not included in that original document only points up the difficulty they have faced in their attempt to gain a measure of recognition and independence. The words of the Constitution articulate an ideal of equality, but it has taken many, many years for our society to accept the ramifications of that original promise. As E.L. Doctorow recently noted, "The undeviating logic of a Constitution in the name of the people is that the privilege of life under its domain is equitable, which is to say, universal. That you cannot have democracy only for yourself or your club or your class or your church or your clan or your color or your sex, for then the word doesn't mean what it says."

Over the years, the courts have articulated both the "delicacy" and the "toughness" of women as a basis for the denial of many rights and privileges accorded to men. In 1872, the asserted frailty and inequality of women compared with men were used by the Supreme Court as a rationale for denying a woman a license to practice law in Bradwell v. Illinois. The alleged strength and equality of women vis-a`-vis men served as the high court's rationale for denying women a guaranteed minimum wage in Adkins v. Children's Hospital in 1923.

In interpreting the Constitution, the courts are still debating whether discrimination based on "biology" alone is permissible while that which is "cultural" is not. The cases speak in terms of "classifications" and whether they are "substantially related" to a governmental interest that is "important." Legal terminology notwithstanding, the court decisions mirror the debate that is going on in the larger community regarding equality between women and men. That debate has been complicated by the prevalence of such divisive subjects as abortion, legitimacy, contraception and surrogate motherhood. These issues involve not only one's view of women and their role in our society, but deep-seated religious and ethical notions as well that tend to divide rather than unite people. And so the judicial system has been slow to act in an area fraught with so many decision-making perils.

After the Bradwell court denied a woman the right to practice law because of her "delicate nature," it took almost a century for the Supreme Court to invalidate a statute because it discriminated against women. The court's work was made more difficult by the fact that the 19th Amendment spoke only in terms of women's right to vote, so the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution had to be invoked to reach other types of discrimination against women.

Without a clear mandate in the Constitution -- such as that which the Equal Rights Amendment would have provided -- the courts have struggled to create theories on which to grant or deny relief to litigants who claim a violation of their rights based on their sex. The adoption by Congress of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 finally provided some statutory authority for the granting of relief.

Title VII, for example, makes it an "unlawful employment practice" to refuse to hire or to discharge an individual or to discriminate in the area of compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. An employer may not segregate or classify employes or job applicants so as to deprive a person of employment opportunities.

The creation of these statutory provisions, however, has proved to be no panacea. Indeed, the courts are still wrestling with the sweep of these laws. For example, in March, the Supreme Court held in Johnson v. Transportation Agency that Title VII was not violated when an affirmative action plan was implemented to ensure that qualified women were given an opportunity to work as skilled craftspersons. None of the 238 positions in question was or had ever been held by a woman.

The court held that this attempt to rectify a particular imbalance did not contravene the statute, since the agency implementing the plan had sought a moderate, gradual approach to improving the representation of women and minorities in its work force. In other words, as the court had earlier held in the area of race, Title VII does not prohibit an affirmative action plan that is (1) "designed to break down old patterns of {sexual} segregation and hierarchy"; (2) "does not unnecessarily trammel the interests of the {male} employees"; (3) "does not require the discharge of {male} workers and their replacement with new {female} hirees"; (4) "does {not} create an absolute bar to the advancement of {male} employees"; and (5) "is a temporary measure . . . not intended to maintain {sexual} balance, but simply to eliminate a manifest {sexual} imbalance."

The Johnson case is an encouraging sign, but remnants of the past still remain. One of the dissenters, for example, turns the import of Title VII on its head and in essence seems to hold women responsible for the status quo. Because of "longstanding social attitudes," he asserts, the type of job in question "has not been regarded by women themselves as desirable work." The implication is that the situation cannot be corrected until women's attitudes change. How neat, yet how impossible to ever attempt as a society to overcome past discrimination that is deeply imbedded in our social fabric. And so the modest plan at issue in Johnson for correcting historical inequities becomes in this dissenting jurist's mind nothing less than a "powerful engine of racism and sexism"!

One commentator, Ruth Sedler, has noted that "legal change alone cannot bring about social change." However, she asserts, it should not be forgotten that if "sexual equality is declared to be an officially approved societal value, the law will not, as it does now, perpetuate the subordinate position of women but to the contrary can be used affirmatively to help accelerate social change." Isn't that what the Equal Rights Amendment was all about? It spoke directly to the issue. "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." The fundamental principle embodied in that amendment is that the legal rights of men and women should not be determined by an accident of birth. Each individual should be given the opportunity to develop his or her unique qualities and capabilities. The amendment does not ask that women be "protected" or accorded special rights. It speaks of men and women as equals, neither receiving preference.

One of the complications in achieving the goals set forth in the Equal Rights Amendment is the fact that the discrimination experienced by women in their daily lives is partly based on their economic condition. It is estimated that by the 1990s almost half of our working population will be women. This remarkable fact reflects a true transition in our society. However, the path that has brought women into the work force has been a long and difficult one.

An examination of women's struggle for acceptance in the legal profession gives some insight into the range of problems encountered. It reflects in microcosm the larger struggle of all women in this country to secure equal rights. Nationwide during the 1970s, the percentage of women attorneys and judges nearly tripled, and the percentage of women graduating from law school increased sixfold. These figures stand in stark contrast to the situation that faced women a little more than a century ago, when the Supreme Court held that a state could refuse to grant women a license to practice law.

In California, a courageous woman named Clara Shortridge Foltz managed to convince the legislature, the governor and the state Supreme Court in the late 1870s that she should be able to attend the state university law school and practice law. She was denied admission to the law school by the directors, one of whom happened to be California's first chief justice. He wrote her that it "would be unwise to receive her, her presence, in {their} judgment, being calculated to distract the attention of the male students."

She challenged this denial in the justice's own court and won. After her oral argument, one of the justices commented, "You are not only a good mother; you are a good lawyer."

But the story does not end there. Foltz finally managed to practice law, but it was to be before male judges and juries. Nationally, as late as 1961, our high court unanimously held that there was no violation of the Constitution's guarantee of due process or equal protection in limiting the circumstances under which women could serve as jurors. Although such limitations were removed in 1975, a tragic result of this exclusionary policy was that for nearly two centuries, the legal profession and the judiciary remained bastions of male supremacy. Only men were allowed to participate in the public administration of our judicial system. Even today -- in this year of our bicentennial -- there are only 935 women jurists in this country.

An example from my own experience as the first woman on the California Supreme Court is illustrative. In 1977, one of the first acts I had to perform in my new role as chief justice was to attend the annual court luncheon given by a lawyers' club in Los Angeles. That club, like the one in Sacramento and several others in the state, had never had a woman member. I was the only woman present at the club's luncheon. When I rose to speak, I addressed the assembled legal Brahmins using humor and verse to make my point:

Women members, it's been said, you simply do not take

Unless, of course, they've been hired to jump out of a cake.

I completed my remarks with this observation:

If women are treated as second class within our shared profession,

Where will you choose to cease the exercise of that discretion?

I cannot believe we want to have a world with people who,

Would more than gladly allocate separate but equal status to

Any race, religion or way of life that was not like their own

For in such a world each person must live separately, but equally, alone.

The fact is that sexism remains a part of our culture, and the courts are no more immune from it than are any other institutions within our society. That does not mean, however, that judges must suffer it gladly, and several state judicial systems have taken steps to address this problem directly. During my tenure as chief justice, for example, I established a special task force that has taken a number of steps to help make California's courtrooms an environment free from sexual and racial bias. Some of the areas under review for gender bias are the selection of court-appointed counsel at the trial and appellate levels; the language and pattern of jury instructions; the compilation of data on the disparate sentencing of male and female offenders in juvenile and adult courts; and the development of methods to overcome gender bias in the courtroom behavior of judges, counsel, court personnel and witnesses.

Sexism still exists in our society, however, and in combination with the economic disadvantages women continue to face in the work force, it imposes a formidable barrier to true equality. We should not forget that the poor economic condition of women is, in part, a reflection of constitutional inferiority.

Writing in the Yale Law Journal, Anne E. Freedman describes women's economic and social conditions in this decade. "Women are segregated into low-paying, low-status jobs; under-represented in political institutions and processes; saddled with large amounts of unpaid and often tedious work in the home; and subject to crippling stereotyping and channeling from early infancy through adulthood."

The statistics bear out the starkness of her picture. Last year, women made up less than 5 percent of Congress. A recent study of individuals with doctorate degrees indicates that in every scientific field, women earn less than men. Women scientists' and engineers' salaries are 32 percent lower than men's.

The business world is not markedly different. At the highest echelons, as the Los Angeles Times noted last year, only one woman heads a Fortune 500 company. Although the number of women on the boards of the top 1,000 companies in the United States has tripled in the last 10 years, there are as yet only 439 of them.

A recent study indicates that female executives earn approximately 20 percent less than their male counterparts. What is even more disturbing is the fact that women in these positions were earning less than they had been two years earlier, with male executives averaging $40,500 a year compared with $32,000 for female executives.

Nearly 80 percent of our female work force is segregated into clerical, service, unskilled industrial and retail occupations. Even in occupations that historically have been considered to be "women's work," the men in those fields tend to be better paid. For example, in 1980 the median income of women working in clerical occupations was only 61 percent that of men. Overall, women earn only 64 cents for every dollar earned by men.

The most recent figures seem to indicate that while white men are improving their economic conditions, a new class of poor people is being created in America. The "new poor" of today are women and their children caught in a vicious cycle of poverty. Two out of every three adults classified as "poor" are women. In households headed by a woman, one out of every two pre-school children lives in poverty. There are now 9.9 million households headed by women.

The true challenge ahead is to ensure that the women's movement is a grass-roots movement with equal concern for all women, not just those advancing to the highly paid, most clearly visible white-collar positions. The successful advancement of a few women to these positions should serve as a challenge to us not to settle for a mere cosmetic touch and a type of tokenism. Women today play a role in every aspect of our national life. And that is why they are in such an excellent position to make a special contribution to our society in these final years of the 20th century. They can speak out from the barrios to the board rooms about the need for human dignity and mutual respect. They can touch our society at every level and make their presence felt. That represents a remarkable opportunity, and I would like to see women confidently and increasingly provide that sort of leadership.

As a nation, we need to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment and soon. For every time we strike a blow against one form of discrimination, we help sound the death knell for other types of discrimination. That is why advances in women's and minority rights have often gone hand in hand. That is why the elimination of stereotypes about women also betokens the elimination of stereotypes about men. Surely, the liberation of women is also the liberation of men.

Although we have not yet achieved equal rights within our society, we have come a long way since 1787. But it will take a vigilant eye and a resolute will to make certain that the last century of achievement for women is only the starting point for an even better future -- a future in which the words of our Constitution will truly speak for "We the people," and a future in which all men and all women will be seen as truly "created equal." ::