Statement from the National Women’s History Museum on the Death of United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

For Immediate Release

Sandra Day O’Connor (March 26, 1930 – December 1, 2023) was the essence of a visionary leader. Her childhood on a cattle ranch in El Paso, Texas, provided her the opportunity and freedom to become fiercely independent and self-sufficient. At the age of 16, she enrolled at Stanford University and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in economics in 1950. Although she later graduated in the top 10% of her class from Stanford Law School, she was frequently told that law firms simply do not hire women. Undeterred, O’Connor tenaciously laid the foundations for a career that defied the inequities of unequal pay, gender discrimination, and even a lack of women’s restrooms when she became the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1981. More than just recurring “firsts,” O’Connor will be remembered for her willingness to break down doors for future generations of women to walk through.

The National Women’s History Museum acknowledges the sad and significant loss of Sandra Day O’Connor. We echo her tireless call for young women and girls to activism, volunteerism, and civic engagement. O’Connor’s frequent reminder that no gesture is too small to make a difference is demonstrated in her hopeful words, “Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time.” We celebrate and look to Justice O’Connor’s life and work as we continue our own mission work to inspire, educate, and make gender parity an inherent reality.

About the National Women's History Museum
Founded in 1996, the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) is an innovative museum dedicated to uncovering, interpreting, and celebrating women’s diverse contributions to society. A renowned leader in women’s history education, the Museum brings to life the countless untold stories of women throughout history, and serves as a space for all to inspire, experience, collaborate, and amplify women’s impact—past, present, and future. We strive to fundamentally change the way women and girls see their potential and power.

The NWHM fills in major omissions of women in history books and K-12 education, providing scholarly content and educational programming for teachers, students, and parents. We reach more than four million visitors each year through our online content and education programming and, in March 2023, mounted our first physical exhibit at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in downtown Washington, DC, We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist DC. The Museum is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit us at