Happy Wednesday! This week we’re taking a closer look at equal pay activist Lilly Ledbetter!
The best explanation of what happened to Lilly at Goodyear comes from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s dissenting opinion in the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear:
“Lilly Ledbetter was a supervisor at Goodyear Tire and Rubber’s plant in Gadsden, Alabama, from 1979 until her retirement in 1998. For most of those years, she worked as an area manager, a position largely occupied by men. Initially, Ledbetter’s salary was in line with the salaries of men performing substantially similar work. Over time, however, her pay slipped in comparison to the pay of male area managers with equal or less seniority. By the end of 1997, Ledbetter was the only woman working as an area manager and the pay discrepancy between Ledbetter and her 15 male counterparts was stark: Ledbetter was paid $3,727 per month; the lowest paid male area manager received $4,286 per month, the highest paid, $5,236”
Ginsberg went on to say that the appropriate remedy to this injustice was to re-write the laws governing fair pay … and in 2009, President Barack Obama’s first act was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This law gave women standing to sue employers for gender-based pay inequity, which helped all American women … except Lilly Ledbetter, whose case preceded the law.
Despite this (or perhaps because of it) Lilly has spent the last decade championing for women’s pay equity, and for gender equity in general. She has given scores of inspirational lectures at universities, conferences, and union conventions.
The University of Pennsylvania notes “Wow! Wow! Wow! Your commencement speech last week was one of the most moving, inspirational, and quite frankly the best speech I have heard in my entire tenure as dean. I am not alone in my sentiments. I have heard nothing but praise for you from faculty, students and staff.”
The Texas Civil Rights Project wrote “Lilly was absolutely fabulous and so kind and sociable. Everyone LOVED her, and her speech was very inspiring and moving. People were lining up after she spoke to buy her book and meet her. We couldn’t have asked for more– she was absolutely delightful. It was truly an honor for all of us to meet her and talk with her. She is a hero.”
Let us know if you’d like to have Lilly Ledbetter speak for your organization, conference, or university! Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
—And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!