Last Wednesday, September 14, 2011, the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network hosted an event to present Women of Influence Lilly Ledbetter. I, along with other members of the Muslim Bar Association of the Chicago attended the event. Check out our photo with her. It was an honor meeting her and hearing her powerful story. For those who may not know, she is THE Lilly Ledbetter of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. To make a long story short, she found out she was a victim of gender discrimination in her employment with Good Year Tires. After losing in a Supreme Court Decision 5-4 because of statute of limitations, and a scathing dissenting opinion from Justice Ginsberg, she took her case to Congress, that passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
Most of the attendees were female attorneys which I found so refreshing. I must say, I grew up a relatively cushiony life. I’ve always been aware of gender discrimination but it never really hit me until about 2 months ago when I was at the courthouse. I walked in the courthouse’s attorney resource center (where many attorneys sneak for a break) and found myself the only female attorney in the room. There must have been at least 20 other attorneys. I saw a couple of women walking in and out, but I never felt so left out and… different. Women have always outnumbered men in my classes as far back as I remember, but for some reason, in the professional world, I stuck out like a sore thumb.
Thankfully, one of the male attorneys took me under his wing and noticed that I looked uncomfortable and introduced me to his colleagues. I certainly wasn’t discriminated against, but the environment itself was unnerving. This is all the more reason why I truly admire women like Lilly Ledbetter. It’s uncomfortable enough just *being* one of the few women — but to stand up to the powers that be, all the way to the Supreme Court and beyond really takes guts.