Judge Arleo Emphasizes Confidence as the Ultimate Key to Success

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The Honorable Madeline Cox Arleo is one of few judges that the United States district has. She was appointed by President Barack Obama and serves as the United States District Judge. Recently, the Mount community had the pleasure of hearing Arleo speak on a panel in April for Mount Saint Dominic’s Annual Justice Day. (Arleo was joined by Christine A. Amalfe, department chair at Gibbons law firm.) Arleo spoke about her experience as a woman who practices law. Her speech discussed the struggles women have to overcome daily in the workforce and provided shocking statistics about gender inequality.

In 2019, most would assume that the world has progressed and broken the stereotypes that were typically placed on women; unfortunately, this is not the case. Arleo called attention to this pressing issue saying,“[the] U.S. Senate, very powerful, right? 25% of the U.S. Senate is female. That’s a huge jump from like 10 years ago, which means 75% of the U.S. Senate is male.”

Arleo continued to talk about the government adding, “Governors have a lot of power. We have 50 states and a governor in each state. There are 9 female governors which means 80% of our states are run by men. That needs to change!”

The call for change regarding women taking an active role in politics has never been louder. Women endure struggles everywhere, such as body-shaming and sexual assault. Arleo stated that this new generation must be the one to take a stand against these injustices.

There are so many issues to combat, and as a result, many wonder if change is even possible. Arleo spoke about the practical way to face these challenges head-on. According to Arleo, nothing is impossible. She offered advice to the congregation of Mount students and faculty, saying that failure is inevitable, but it is often something that people do not want to accept. Arleo stated, “Most business leaders have failed. Most lawyers who become partners in big law firms have failed. Most people like me have failed. But we’re so afraid of failure and we’re so afraid of taking chances that it sort of interferes with our ability to take risks and to stand up when we fail and say ‘I’m gonna try again.’”

Arleo talked about the relationship between failure and success, explaining that they often work together. If someone wants to achieve success, they must be willing to fail and try again.

Failure was not the only topic of Arleo’s speech. Many have heard the saying “Confidence is Key” and find the message repetitive or cliche. Everyone wants to be confident, specifically young women entering the workforce. Arleo talked about confidence being more then just loving yourself, but having the strength to achieve the extraordinary.

While it is hard to be confident, being fearless in a scary world is exactly what young women need to do the enact change. Judge Arleo stated, “Be confident, and understand that confidence is incompatible with being scared, being worried, it means I’m gonna muster all my strength and I’m gonna raise my hand and I’m gonna volunteer to be the president of the business club, I’m gonna run for it. I’m not gonna be the secretary. I’m not gonna be the treasurer. I am going to be the president.” She added that if there is a conversation going on in class, and you have a different view, to assert it without fear.

As young women of MSDA, we are taught the importance of empowerment and striving to make the world better. Some may feel discouraged or limited, but many do not realize that we have the same educational opportunities as men. So why can’t women change the world, possibly even more than some men? To quote Arleo, if men can run the world, “We can run it better.”

Arleo also talked about the obstacles women have to face in the workforce when balancing work and family life. People often question if a woman with a husband and kids can handle a job. Men are seldom asked questions about their abilities to balance their family responsibilities and their profession, which demonstrates the complete double standard that women face every day.

That is why Arleo highlighted the importance of being prepared.

She explained that when you put in the extra effort, you give yourself advantages because people can know and see you as the smartest and hardest working person in the room. Your gender no longer matters as much when they know how reliable, dedicated, and disciplined you are.

She said that the reality is “When you’re the only woman in the room, you have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously, and that’s how you do it. You do it with confidence.”

Women have always had to work twice as hard as men for the same jobs and positions. Women are still judged daily in the workforce, even if they are performing on the same level as their male coworkers. This is why Judge Arleo encouraged the group of young women to push themselves and always perform to the best of their abilities. She encouraged the audience to be more than average: to be excellent.

As Arleo finished her speech, she left the audience with two great pieces of advice. One, “Pay it forward.” And two, “Never forget where you came from and never get too big for your britches.”

The fight for gender equality, specifically in the workforce, is an ongoing battle. Some may disagree and think that gender inequality is not an issue, but it isn’t true. Women have to wake up and prove themselves to the world even though they have the same qualifications as their male counterparts. Arleo inspired the young women of Mount Saint Dominic Academy to break the stereotypes placed on women and prove that women deserve a seat at the table.

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