It wasn’t until their blog IntLawGrrls took a haitus in 2012 that Jaya Ramji-Nogales and her fellow co-founders, Diane Marie Amann and Melina Sterio, realized the power of what they had created.
“We just couldn’t find time to manage it,” said Nogales, a professor for Temple’s Beasley School of Law and co-director of the Institute for International Law and Public Policy. “When we shut it down, there was such a strong reaction.”
Now in its seventh year, after being re-published, IntLawGrrls has fulfilled its goal of becoming a platform for women interested in law to connect on an international level in a way that had not been possible before, Nogales said.
Though the blog’s main contributors are from the United States, it has also attracted attention from women in Africa, Latin America, Australia and Europe, Nogales said.
“One of the advantages of the Internet is [the blog] has a real connection with women in different parts of the world,” she said. “One of our editors is from Europe.”
Nogales said a feature of the blog “pre-reincarnation” included a map that lit up in areas where women were logging on.
“It was amazing to wake up in the morning and see that,” she said. “It’s making the world a smaller place in some ways, and that’s been really rewarding to see.”
After attending law discussions where the panels were dominated by men, Nogales said she and Amann realized they know plenty of women who would be highly qualified to fill these positions.
Though they had to recruit women to participate in the early years of IntLawGrrls, Nogales says women all over the world are now asking to share thoughts on the blog.
“[IntLawGrrls] has managed to fulfill its mission and sustain itself,” she said. “Women are doing this because they have something to say. Now people are reaching out to me personally saying, ‘Hey, I want to write about this and that.’”
Though contributors include women who are already working and practicing law, Nogales said the blog is also open to students who are just starting to break into the field.
Karen Hoffmann, a second year graduate student at Beasley, has been contributing to the blog as a submissions editor for more than a year and said the experience she has gained is invaluable.
“When this opportunity came up, just getting to know, at least through e-mail, and correspond with some of the leading scholars in international law, I knew I had to take advantage of it,” Hoffmann said.
While studying abroad at Temple’s Rome campus last summer, Hoffman said the blog helped her discover an opportunity to participate in a cinema and human rights program at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in Galway, Ireland.
“I wouldn’t have even found out about it if I hadn’t been writing about it for the blog,” she said. “There’s definitely an advantage [there].”
Both Hoffmann and Nogales have a career focus on human rights, a main focus of some of the blog’s discussions.
This also ties into the blogs message of helping women feel comfortable in the field and beyond, they said.
“It goes to show that there is no excuse for not including women in this conversation,” Nogales said. “I think it’s helping tremendously – helping them make connections with other women.”
In a field as traditionally male-dominated as law, Hoffmann said the blog has become important for her, and women all over the world, to feel that they have a place to share their thoughts and beliefs.
“As a feminist, I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “I think there is definitely a need to have a space for women in the field for their voices to be heard.”
Alexa Bricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org