Equal pay icon stirs MSU crowd

By MORGAN SOLOMON/Montana State News

On Monday night Lilly Ledbetter spoke to a ballroom full of awe-stricken women speckled with men at Montana State University on her struggles and the accomplishments she has made in her effort to give women the same pay as men.

When Lilly Ledbetter was 40 years old, she got an anonymous letter on her desk at Goodyear Tire & Rubber that she was receiving thousands of dollars less per year than her male colleagues for doing the same type of work. After several years fighting a discrimination case against Goodyear, the Supreme Court reversed the decision made by the federal court to award her $3.8 million.

“I was devastated. It wasn’t about the money. I thought about letting it go, but I couldn’t, it just wasn’t me,” said Ledbetter.

In 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act as his first action when he came into presidency with Ledbetter at his side, but still today women only get 79 cents to a male dollar.

Ledbetter’s continued drive has helped establish Equal Pay for Equal Work task forces in several states in the U.S.  Montana’s task force has been promoted and coordinated by Governor Steve Bollock. He also organized the Equal Pay Summit that was held at MSU the day after Ledbetter’s lecture.

Besides the many she has motivated to create more awareness about the inequality, Ledbetter has touched many hearts and instilled a sense of determination in the women who listen to her speeches.

“I know I will ask any future employers how I stand in comparison to my colleagues…Her story has instilled a sense of pride in my gender,” said an MSU junior Amanda Bachland.

Ledbetter final words drove a round of applause from the audience with a standing ovation.

“The Supreme Court is as far as you can go, but I went further… I may have lost a battle, but I won the war.”

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