As harassment debate intensifies, Feinstein reminds women how far they've come

Key Points
  • California Senator Dianne Feinstein said that "women today are so lucky" because they're "accepted" in many professions.
  • Feinstein said when she started working in 1955, "It was 'women need not apply.'"
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Pete Marovich | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Senator Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday reminded her hometown of San Francisco how far women's rights in the U.S. have come over the last 60 years.

Speaking just blocks away from the headquarters of Uber, which has been plagued this year by complaints of sexual harassment, the senior Democratic senator from California told hundreds of supporters of the challenges she's faced over the decades.

Feinstein, who served as San Francisco's mayor from 1978 to 1988, was asked what advice she would give to women right now.

Here's what she said:

"Women today are so lucky. They are accepted all across this land... as surgeons, farmers, in the Supreme Court. I applied for my first job in 1955 and I can tell you, it was 'women need not apply.' It's a great time to be a woman.

"Women have to develop a body of expertise. Figure out what you want to do for the next 50 years, get as much education as you can."

Feinstein's discussion at the Herbst Theater was sponsored by the Commonwealth Club.

Up the road, Uber was in the process of introducing its new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi after a chaotic few months for the ride-hailing company.

In February, an Uber engineer, Susan Fowler, wrote a lengthy blog post detailing alleged harassment and management failures during her year at the company.

Fowler's post sparked a company-wide review at Uber and a broader debate about women in tech start-ups. In the following months, sexual harassment claims led to the ouster of several venture capitalists.