Below is my response the fellowship question:
Upon reflection, I find my response interesting for two reasons. First, I unconsciously chose to write about a personal challenge that has become a professional challenge over time. Strange enough, my greatest struggle in life is negotiating the principles my parents and family instilled in me with the need to be a strong and independent person - not only for myself, but for those I aim to serve as an attorney. The curious aspect of this dynamic is that until I was forced to articulate this struggle (via answering the above fellowship question), I failed to recognize its key players: traditional notions of Latina/o gender roles and feminism.
What is remarkable to me is that for the past decade I have been engaging in a serious and personally deep negotiation of the conflicting features of Latina/o gender roles and feminism without clearly identifying them. There is no doubt I have had my suspicions from time to time of who my "masked" players are, but sadly I never took the time to properly investigate. Instead, whenever I experienced an inner conflict between the two, I bit my lip, put my head down, and simply carried on. I chose never to question the sources of my conflict.
I attribute this lack of curiosity in part to the power of the traditional Latina/o roles I was raised with. As noted in my response to the question, I understood questioning things as being synonymous with being confrontational. Although I would not have been questioning a male or an authority figure in this instance, to question the conflict within me would still be risking confrontation with something. A woman is patient, and flexible. She works with what she is given. I have this conflict. I am supposed to simply work through it.
This passive line of logic has dramatically changed over time. Furthermore, now that I have identified the masked players in the greatest challenge in my life, I feel more empowered than ever. I am more comfortable and prepared to intelligently confront these challenges. While discussing my response with a colleague, I was comforted to hear her echo many of the same challenges. Although I am sure there are other women out there who work through the same issues, I hope there are some women who do not. I would like to hear their responses and how they negotiate the tension between traditional gender notions of women in a male dominated legal profession.