Posts Tagged ‘Lilly Ledbetter’

Kelsey Klein

The 2013 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) is approaching and will surely leave our attendees with new revelations on leadership. Following NCCWSL 2012 — one of our most successful conferences to date — we will go above and beyond for students May 30–June 1, 2013.

For past attendees, NCCWSL has provided the boost of confidence that they needed to get going in leadership. Our conference provides life-changing skills to help women step up to the plate and lead without any doubts.

Meet Kelsey Klein, for example. Klein is a senior majoring in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Last year, she attended as a national scholarship recipient and could not have been more appreciative. “My high expectations for NCCWSL 2012 were in no way disappointed,” Klein says, glowing over the amazing words of encouragement that she heard from keynote speakers Lilly Ledbetter and Mayda del Valle. Klein was also moved by the stories and accomplishments of our Women of Distinction honorees, specifically Noorjahan Akbar. “I felt like [I saw] my life reflected in NCCWSL 2012, reminding me that I am not alone in my experiences,” says Klein. “I felt connected to the women of NCCWSL.”

NCCWSL inspired Klein to “be fearless” and “go for it!” Hearing and connecting with all the women at the conference gave her the power to be confident, assured, and steadfast in utilizing her skills. “This means recommitting myself to these qualities in my current leadership roles as well as being confident, fierce, and fearless in accepting new leadership roles,” she explains. Now producing her university’s performance of The Vagina Monologues, Klein continues to put these tools to use.

NCCWSL was definitely a transformative experience for Klein, one that she highly recommends to other student women leaders. “Whether you are a new leader or an experienced one, NCCWSL can help you build leadership skills, think about leadership in new ways, and refresh your commitment to excellence,” she says. “Take advantage of any opportunity to attend the conference!”

So where will you be May 30–June 1? Take Kelsey’s advice:  Be fearless! Be inspired! Be transformed into a better leader, and make sure you register for NCCWSL 2013!

This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Nzinga Shury.

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Hakenjos takes in a live music festival with family on the New Orleans Riverwalk

Hakenjos takes in a music festival with family on the New Orleans Riverwalk

Last week, we spoke with Deborah Freda and Koggie M. Hakenjos, two members of our 2013 convention’s Host Committee, about why they’re excited to host the 47th AAUW National Convention in New Orleans. They shared what their hometown means to them and some of their favorite memories from past conventions. Today, we continue that conversation with Barbara Harris, who is helping coordinate our volunteers, and Jan Koellen, who is our public relations and hospitality chair.

What is your favorite place in New Orleans?

Koellen: I love the river because it’s had such a profound impact on the lives of the people there. You don’t usually see the river unless you’re walking on the levee, but you always feel it. From the Riverwalk, you can see everything that makes New Orleans: the beignets, café au lait, pralines, voodoo gris-gris, and farmers market art, along with jewelry and food and jazz clubs. Just down Decatur Street, St. Louis Cathedral is the backdrop for Jackson Square with all the artists, tarot card readers, and street performers who surround it. Turn around and there’s the river filled with barges, tankers, ships, and paddle wheelers. At the ferry access, there’s a free ride across and back to see the river as it flows past the city.

Harris: I’m a docent at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Friday nights we have entertainment with great musicians and lectures by famous artists. I hosted a group of students from Denmark last spring and took them to hear the New Orleans Gospel Choir and see Thornton Dial, an extraordinary artist whose work was being displayed.

What is your favorite memory from a past AAUW convention?

Koellen: I’ve loved the big gatherings where everyone was inspired by the panel discussions and speeches. I also enjoyed getting to know individual members in the smaller workshops, between sessions, and at the cocktail event. I’d also have to include the tour of AAUW HQ in 2011, where I learned so much about the history and women that I hadn’t known about and also met current staff and interns.

Why is the convention’s focus on Leading across Generations important to you?

Koellen: We had a dinner to celebrate the 130th anniversary of AAUW, and I met many of the older members of our branch who were crucial to the branch’s vitality. I love working with our older members and the experience they bring but also want to find things to bring in new members. It’s clear that younger women are becoming aware of the need to speak for their own equality, and I believe we are a more powerful force for change together rather than alone.

photo submitted by AAUW Host Committee member Koggie M. Hakenjos

St. Louis Cathedral across the Mississippi river.

What would you tell friends who are on the fence about coming to inspire them to register for convention?

Harris: I would tell them that they would be missing the opportunity of a lifetime. I would give them a description of the last convention I attended. Most importantly, I’d tell them of the differences we have made in society — both in the past and what we are doing now, with laws that have been passed in Washington.

Describe New Orleans in one word.

Harris: The New Orleans Museum of Art has a fabulous wall mural where the artist was asked to paint New Orleans, and he entitled it Forever. It’s a very vibrant piece, and I think “vibrant” would be the best word to describe the city’s combination of food, music, culture, races, literature, art, and a passion for all.

Koellen: I’d say a gumbo, because New Orleans is a mix of so many cultures, flavors, music, and architecture that has developed into a unique blend only found in this one place. Also, it represents enjoyment in all things because there is such rich sensation in all the experiences there, and it’s a place that knows how to relax and have a good time.

Join Barbara, Jan, Deborah, and Koggie to hear Lilly Ledbetter, Melissa Harris-Perry, and more exciting speakers at the 2013 National Convention in New Orleans! Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, 125 years of AAUW fellowships and grants, and 131 years of AAUW Leading across Generations June 9–12 in the New Orleans Sheraton Hotel.

Register for convention today to take advantage of our best-value rates!

 This post was written by AAUW Member Leadership Programs Associate Ryan Burwinkel.

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face_of_pay_equity_150x225The new year may be right around the corner, but it will take an extra four months for women’s earnings to catch up to men’s earnings from the year before. The symbolic day when women’s earnings finally make up the 23 percent difference is known as Equal Pay Day. As usual, AAUW will host special events and distribute resources to help celebrate the work that has been done and that still needs to be done to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work.

It is never too early to start preparing for Equal Pay Day — April 9, 2013. This year will be especially important, as 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.

What will your state or branch do to observe Equal Pay Day? AAUW has updated our Pay Equity Resource Kit with suggested ideas for action, facts and figures about pay equity, the latest AAUW research, and step-by-step instructions for planning activities. Here is just a sampling of what the resource kit can help you accomplish:

  • Organize reading and discussion sessions. Lilly Ledbetter’s book, Grace and Grit, would make a great selection!
  • Issue a press release for Equal Pay Day. A sample press release is included in the resource kit.
  • Hold in-district meetings with your members of Congress. The resource kit walks you through the process of requesting a meeting, preparing for that meeting, and following up with members of Congress and their staff afterward.
  • Complete a workplace pay audit for your office, and encourage branch and state members to do the same.
  • Organize a petition to show that there is a high level of popular support for pay equity legislation.
  • Conduct a public information campaign. You can raise awareness about the need for legislation to end discrimination against women in the labor market.
  • Ask your members of Congress and state legislators to sign a fair pay pledge. The resource kit includes sample pledges.

Download the complete AAUW Pay Equity Resource Kit today to get started! You can also request pay equity stickers and other materials by e-mailing advocacy@aauw.org.

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New Orleans has an amazing history and rich culture that mean different things to different people. For some, New Orleans is colorful Mardi Gras beads and extravagant floats on Fat Tuesday in the French Quarter. For others, it’s gorgeous St. Louis Cathedral, leisurely river boats, and stately homes whispering of a bygone era. Still others may say that the essence of New Orleans lies in between the zest of Cajun and Creole cuisines and the groove and rhythm of a live jazz band.

Photo credit AAUW Host Committee

2013 Host Committee Chair Deborah Freda all decked out aboard a Mardi Gras float

To get a first-hand account of the essence of New Orleans and to find out what’s so exciting about having our 47th AAUW National Convention in the Big Easy, we reached out to our 2013 Convention Host Committee and asked them a few questions. Today, we’ll hear from Chair Deborah Freda as well as Koggie M. Hakenjos, one of the committee members who is coordinating volunteers.

What is your favorite place in New Orleans?

Hakenjos: My favorite place is the riverfront. It is always calming to run or walk along and see the many ships, cruise ships, and ferries. It invigorates me to see all the activity and people enjoying our city. It is also a very popular place for festivals to be held with lots of food and music. The most common sounds are the horns from the boats, the calliope playing on the Delta Queen riverboat, and musicians playing music. Sunrises and sunsets are always very picturesque, and it is a treat to see downtown and the Crescent City Connection bridge light up at night.

What is your favorite memory from a past AAUW convention?

Freda: I have two favorite memories, both from 2011. First, I loved hearing Lilly Ledbetter speak and having my picture taken with her (she is my AAUW inspiration). And second, lobbying on Capitol Hill.

Hakenjos: I have not attended a national convention, but I do have a favorite memory from a state convention. There were several students in attendance who had participated in the $tart $mart [salary negotiation] seminar. A student at Xavier University gave her report, and I spoke with her at one of the breaks. We connected immediately, and our branch sent her to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. Her recap of the trip was heartwarming, and she came to our branch meeting to tell us about her experience and show pictures. We still keep in touch on a regular basis.

Why is the convention’s focus on Leading across Generations important to you?

Photo credit AAUW Host Committee

Hakenjos’ homemade shrimp remoulade, which she describes as “A New Orleans classic!”

Hakenjos: I happen to be one of the youngest members of our branch. Two of our members just received a life membership. I worked with these wise women at several presentations and have interacted with young ladies at $tart $mart and Elect Her seminars. It is important for us to build confidence in young women and give them every opportunity to be educated in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] areas. I think by having multiple generations come together to discuss AAUW and women’s equality, we would all be more empowered.

Freda: In AAUW, there are so many strong women and leaders. Their wisdom and life experiences are an inspiration to us all. I get motivation from hearing their stories when they were truly breaking through barriers in the workplace, et cetera. Multiple generations of AAUW women are all passionate about women’s equality. There has been so much discrimination over the years; this is personal to every woman, and each has a story to tell.

What would you tell a friend who was on the fence about coming to inspire her or him to register for convention?

Freda: This will be a unique and memorable convention unlike any other because of the speakers and the culture, music, food, and spirit of New Orleans. The excitement is contagious! So come be a part of it all! You don’t want to miss this one!

Describe New Orleans in one word.

Hakenjos: Historic


Hear more from our host committee members in New Orleans!

Remember, Registration for the 2013 Convention is now live! Visit our convention website to take advantage of our best value rates!

This post was written by AAUW Member Leadership Programs Associate Ryan Burwinkel.

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My pal Lilly Ledbetter will be on The Colbert Report on Halloween. I think it’s only fair that I issue a warning to Mr. Colbert: I think he may have finally met his match. I’m thinking he won’t know what to do with the lethal combination of her sweet Southern drawl, her infectious laugh, and her front-row perspective on history.

My friendship with Lilly continues to be one of the great privileges of my life. The friendship has taken me all over the United States — to AAUW National Conventions (she hasn’t missed one since 2009), to various AAUW state conventions around the country, and to the Democratic National Conventions in 2008 and 2012. We’ll do New Orleans together for AAUW’s 2013 National Convention in June. I do some of her letter- and speech-writing, and she mentioned me in her book.

This great friendship formed despite meeting under unfortunate circumstances: The U.S. Supreme Court had just ruled against Lilly in its wrongheaded May 2007 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. Lilly and I lobbied Capitol Hill together after the decision came down. Our work helped pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and we grew even closer as we lobbied together over the years on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Since 2009, Lilly and I have worked tirelessly to pass this important legislation to close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Throughout our advocacy work, Lilly has always marveled, “How is it possible you’re not a lawyer?” I always respond, ”I just play one on TV.”

But she’s not just a friend of mine — she’s a friend to AAUW. Lilly has taken the time to get to know AAUW members across the country, and she does so because she sincerely enjoys it. She always tells me that sitting down with AAUW members is like relaxing in her own family room. She basically did just that with my own family recently. Much to our delight, Lilly had dinner with me, my mom, and my brother on a recent campaign swing through Ohio.

I expect that Colbert will throw a few curveballs Lilly’s way — and, considering the timing, he may even work in a Halloween costume or two. But I’m not worried. I know Lilly will handle his questions with aplomb, especially if he asks about her own Halloween costume. That one’s easy. She’s a feminist icon.

P.S. Interested in learning Lilly’s story and supporting future fair pay efforts? Everyone who donates $130 or more to AAUW receives a limited-edition copy of her book, Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond

Update: Watch the interview by following the link below:

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On October 9, I had the honor of hearing Lilly Ledbetter speak on my campus, St. Cloud State University. Ledbetter’s story is an inspiring one. After 19 years of working at Goodyear Tire and Rubber in Alabama as a production manager, a note was slipped into her mailbox revealing a startling pay gap between her and three male colleagues in the same position. Despite knowing that taking the corporation to court would be a long, uphill battle that would likely not lead to the compensation she was owed, she sued Goodyear. “It wasn’t about me anymore,” she said. “It was about my daughter, my granddaughter, and the women and families in this nation.” Her case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 2007, after nine years of fighting, she received the final verdict. She lost because of an unreasonably short statute of limitations that would have required her to file suit years before she even knew she was being paid unfairly.

But her story did not end there. Ledbetter became the namesake for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first bill signed into law by President Obama in 2009. The bill righted the wrong of the Supreme Court decision by allowing the statute of limitations to reset with every discriminatory paycheck.

As I sat in the audience listening to this strong woman share her story, two things happened to me. First, I was humbled by how much women in the past have achieved to guarantee me certain rights. Second, I was inspired to do the same for future generations of women. I think that my generation often does not take the time to learn about the influential women in our country’s history. I feel that young women believe the struggles of the past are over, when in fact they are far from complete. Even today, women’s median earnings are still only 77 percent of men’s, which accounts for huge losses in income, retirement savings, and Social Security benefits over a lifetime of work. But Ledbetter’s speech appeared to raise students’ awareness. Through the question-and-answer session following the speech, you could hear people expressing their outrage at what happened to her and their demand to change what is still occurring today.

St. Cloud State University has been making great strides to bring inspiring programming to young women. At the SCSU Women’s Center, where I work, we strive to empower women, increase awareness, and develop programming to support those principles on our campus. Our mission statement speaks to these ideals: “With passion and purpose to end sexist oppression, the Women’s Center promotes a safe, inclusive, and engaged community through advocacy, education, alliance-building, and women’s leadership.”

My hope is that by bringing speakers like Ledbetter to campus, our generation will have a greater appreciation for past struggles and those who fought them. I also hope that when someone from my generation is faced with a situation where she has to decide whether to stand up for herself, she will think like Ledbetter: “I knew that the only choice I had was to stand up for myself and do what was right. I understood the risk I was taking. It would surely be the hardest fight of my life, and there were no guarantees I’d win. … But as I ruminated, I realized I had no other choice.”

This post was written by Bre Moulder, a St. Cloud State University sophomore majoring in political science and women’s studies. St. Cloud State University is an AAUW college/university partner member.

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AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz will report from the Democratic National Convention this week and reported from the Republican National Convention last week. Follow her updates at AAUW Dialog, on Facebook, and @LisaMaatz on Twitter.

“If Mitt Romney and Republicans played up their feminine side last week in Tampa, Democrats on Tuesday were utterly and unabashedly feminist.” So says the National Journal after the Democrats’ schmoozefest Tuesday night. I won’t lie — I enjoyed it. The Democratic women of the House were wonderful, a rainbow with superstars like pay-equity champion Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, choice champion (and my former boss) Carolyn Maloney of New York, and the always-feisty and on-point Gwen Moore of Wisconsin.

Lilly Ledbetter had the crowd jumping out of their seats, stating that “equal pay for equal work is an American value.” And of course, first lady Michelle Obama gave a tour-de-force defense of and case for her husband’s reelection. All were entertaining. All were feel good. But I would also say that Ann Romney’s speech was also very feel good, and the GOP trotted out lots of women as well.

Yes, yes, I know the substance of both conventions’ first nights was very different. The party platforms, both of which AAUW submitted comments on, are very different. While Tuesday night’s DNC lineup made for a fun evening — it’s never boring ­­­­­­watching lots of smart women speak snarky truth to power — I’ve gotten cranky. I want more from both parties!

The real question is what have you done for us lately? Yes, women will decide this election. But don’t just parade around your female celebrities and think that will satisfy us! The stakes are high; tell us why you deserve our vote! Don’t pander, and for goodness sake, don’t take us for granted. I’m so tired of lip service. While past achievements are nice and all, what’s your party’s plan for the future?

It’s time for the typical dog-and-pony show to stop. If indeed women decide this election — and it’s looking more and more like that will be the case — then we as women need to seize this opportunity to hold candidates accountable. Candidates from both parties need to tell us what their plans are for the economy, jobs, education, health care, responsible budgets, violence against women, national security, and other issues. They need to be clear about their positions on reproductive rights, pay equity, Title IX, child care, and food stamps. And women need to cast their votes accordingly.

Here’s the bottom line. The women of America have a real chance this time to turn the tide in our direction — in everyone’s direction, when it comes to equal rights. Both parties are scampering for our votes, and it’s our job not to give them away lightly. We need to cast them thoughtfully, deliberately, and every single woman of voting age in the nation needs to be registered and at the polls on November 6 or forever hold her peace.

But this journey doesn’t end with the election. Once women have chosen our president, our Senate, our House, and our state legislatures nationwide, the real work begins. AAUW plans to hold our legislators’ feet to the fire, based not only on their election-year promises but also on the fact that they owe their jobs to us. January is the time to start delivering. It’s like my wonderful mama always says: I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!

The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.

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Lilly Ledbetter delivers Keynote at NCCWSL 2012Feminism has always been criticized as being preoccupied with advancing the interests of white, educated, middle-class women. While most women’s groups now take action on everything from racism to marriage equality to social security, the rhetoric of equal pay has at least the potential to emphasize the paychecks of the mostly white women at the top — even though a pay gap clearly exists between men and women in nearly every line of work and at every educational level.

So it’s a good thing that the equal-pay movement has been reignited by a woman who can inspire and motivate people from all walks of life. Lilly Ledbetter worked her way up the ladder at Goodyear Tire and Rubber and risked everything to file a pay discrimination lawsuit after an anonymous note tipped her off that she was being paid 40 percent less than her male peers were. She was doing the same job and had earned a top performance award at the company.

Last week, Ledbetter shared her frustrating story with the nearly 600 students at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, and her message helped inspire these up-and-coming workers to fight for pay equity as they begin their careers.

The audience was moved by Ledbetter’s clear-cut case and the heart-wrenchingly unjust Supreme Court decision that followed it — which said she should have filed her pay discrimination suit 18 years before she even knew she was being paid unfairly. A jury trial had previously awarded her damages and back pay, but Ledbetter never received a dime.

In her keynote address, Ledbetter told the audience that she grew up in one of the poorest counties in Alabama. Even though she was a manager at Goodyear, she and her husband struggled to pay the bills; the wages she lost to discrimination would have made a huge difference in their lives. Now, in her work as an equal-pay advocate, Ledbetter speaks passionately about the drastic effects the pay gap has on families like hers. Often, she says, it determines “whether they can buy food, pay the mortgage, and keep healthy.”

Ledbetter is one of many women who have stood up against industry giants to fight lengthy, expensive legal battles for equity in their hourly wages. Her words inspired the college women in the audience to fight for their own and all working women’s pay equity.

In the question-and-answer session afterward, conference-goers said they were touched by Ledbetter’s story, and one even called her a “rock star.” When they asked what they could do to help others and themselves, Ledbetter had a simple answer: Stand up for yourself, stay informed, and vote.

She urged the students to learn how to negotiate their salaries, because “if you don’t start now, you’ll never catch up.” But she also stressed the need to stay informed about local and national wage laws and the voting records of politicians — especially on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a law that would close loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act.

“If the Paycheck Fairness Act had been law back then, I would have known how much less I was getting paid,” Ledbetter said.

Often called the “face of pay equity,” Ledbetter does more than show the human impact of the pay gap’s national statistics — that women make, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar men earn (the average is even lower for black women and Latinas). Her story and others like it refute the myth that the only thing separating men’s and women’s wages is hard work. These stories also show how working women — young and old, with and without diplomas, of any ethnic background — can unite to fight for the pay equity we all deserve.

That unity is further embodied in Ledbetter’s continued advocacy, even though she can no longer benefit from the laws she’s advocating for. “I made a decision in 1998 to stand up for myself. … My journey since then has been for you. Since that ruling came down, my case was over. If I can say something today that will change you in the audience, my goal will have been met.”

After her speech, Ledbetter left with hundreds of new fans who, thanks to her trailblazing, are that much closer to having what the president described when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law in 2009 — that is, to having no limits to their dreams.

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The war on women is everywhere these days. We’ve seen a parade of Mad Men-era ideas that have shocked women down to our toes, and the pay-gap issue has not escaped such ridiculousness. Yesterday, the Senate voted along party lines to block the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have taken real steps to get employers to follow the law and deter pay discrimination before it even starts. But the senators who opposed the bill didn’t stop the fight for equal pay — all they did was create a lot of mad women!

Lilly Ledbetter and AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz meet with senior White House staff.

I had the privilege of lobbying yesterday alongside fair-pay icon Lilly Ledbetter, who flew up from her home in Alabama to campaign for the bill. She and I spent the whole day talking with White House staff, members of Congress, and the press about the importance of fair pay to women and our economy. Over and over, we told legislators that the pay gap is real and has real consequences. A woman is far more likely than a man to spend her golden years in poverty, in part because the pay gap starts as soon as she throws her graduation cap in the air. AAUW’s research has shown that just one year out of college, women working full time already earn less than their male colleagues earn — even when they have the same major and work in the same field. Our research found that the gender pay gap shows up in 107 out of 111 occupations regardless of education level — and women get the short end of the stick.

From left: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and Lilly Ledbetter speak at a Senate press conference

The Paycheck Fairness Act could address this, and that’s what’s so frustrating about yesterday’s vote. Not only do women deserve equal pay for equal work, they need equal pay to support themselves and their families. When women are paid unequally, everyone suffers.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to fight until every woman is treated equally and until she is paid according to her worth rather than outdated stereotypes.

It’s time for our paychecks and our national policies to catch up to the 21st century and to leave the nostalgia to television. Unequal pay has no place in today’s world.

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The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 3220) is a commonsense bill that would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in current law. The bill takes meaningful steps to create incentives for employers to follow the law, empower women to negotiate for equal pay, and strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts. It would also bar retaliation against employees who disclose their own wages. Without this bill, employers can penalize and even fire workers for talking about their salaries. This egregious practice leaves employees in the dark and prevents them from finding out about pay discrimination in the workplace.

AAUW and fair-pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter, the author of Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, have been working hard to get the word out on Capitol Hill. Ledbetter even gave AAUW and Lisa Maatz, our director of public policy and government relations, a shout-out during her appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show on Monday night.

Watch the clip below, read about last week’s House vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, and stay tuned to find out more about how the Senate vote turns out.

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