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Strictly Business — Women of Influence

Martha Coakley

“ We used to argue a little bit about whether we wanted to cover the news or be the news because we had great hopes for women having careers .”

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Our first question: Considering your career and academic background, we are curious to know what drove you to choose law?

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“So I think people elected me as the DA because they thought I was a good lawyer as opposed to “oh, let’s make history.”

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Yes. My next question is did you feel any sort of pressure as the first female attorney general to set a sort of precedent?

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You’ve had many powerful positions, the first woman Attorney General, Women of the Year in 1998, and President of the Women’s Bar Association. Did you face any opposition as a woman in such places of power and authority? If so, how do you think you handled it?

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“But it is — and I will say to all of you — easier to be the critic and it’s easier to stand on the sideline and be critical of everything. It takes a lot more strength — it takes a lot more power — [to stand up], and that’s true whether you run for office or start a new business.”

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As a woman, did you worry that you would have to be harder on crime to not come off as soft or weak or feeble?

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“In today’s world, if you don’t fix things that are wrong or you don’t push back, they become accepted.”

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I have your next question. This actually has two parts. The first part is, how do you deal with public criticism in the print or in social media?

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“It’s important for women to stand up for other women.”

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That’s good insight. Thank you. To add onto that, could you say how and if you dealt with these issues, it affected how you dealt with future policies, decisions, and initiatives?

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I have an additional question. I have heard you speak before at the 2015 Harvard Model Congress as well as at the Kennedy School where I went on a field trip with Miss Hamilton. Both times you mentioned human trafficking, so I was very curious if, as the Chairman for the Human Trafficking Task Force, you could elaborate a little bit more on the importance of addressing the lack of representation of human trafficking in media — an issue that involves so many women, especially in Boston?

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“What are the tools you have to change the world? I would argue particularly that artistry is one. That you also can be advocates or send a message, create beauty and speak in ways that politicians rarely can or [can] very well.”

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I want to know what your next step is. I know that you’re at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. I was wondering if you were going to stay there or if you were going to use your experiences to help and train the next generation of politicians/lawyers.

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“ I don’t come from a political family. I didn’t have a political party behind me, but I was able to run because people had seen me try cases on television and thought that I was good. That was democratizing.”

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We have brought a lot of seniors into our studio in Graphics and we are going to take them to register to vote because they didn’t really know where to go or what to do, so we’re actually going to make a field trip out of it. We’re going to go and have them register because to affect change, you have to be able to — first of all — step up to be able to vote. People I think forget that it’s their duty and their right.

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“ So in this day and age where everything is talk, tweet, don’t neglect your writing skills. They’re hugely important. ”

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Since we’re all young people and some of us are registered to vote, some us are going to be registering to vote, do you have any advice on…there’s so many resources and Internet and Twitter and all of these things to find your information to vote. There’s TV and the news. Where do you find reliable information about candidates and about issues?

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We are ending these interviews by asking, if you had one bit of advice to give these girls, collectively and individually, what would it be?

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“Strictly Business — Women of Influence Team”

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