Letter to Talia about Lilly Ledbetter

Dear Talia,

Ordinarily, I’d start this by saying “by the time you are old enough to find a job, the playing field will finally be economically leveled.”

But because of the time you spent this summer getting voters registered instead of going to the park and because of the time you spent in Florida away from your comforts of home in November, we don’t have to wait that long.

Today, the man you actively helped elect changed your (and my) professional life forever. Today, President Obama passed the Lilly Ledbetter law – a law that requires equal pay for equal work. Because of this law, by the time you can read, I believe that you will say “so what! Of course that’s the case.”. I believe it will be as natural as eating and breathing by the time you get your first job offer. Just like I learned about the groundbreaking work that suffragettes did when I was in school and thought about how foreign and unthinkable it was that women couldn’t vote, I hope you learn about Lilly Ledbetter and others who broke down this barrier – even after the Supreme Court upheld the rights of big biz over individual women.

What I also want you to take away from this is that even the most unlikely of individuals can make a difference. Your Dad and I had the honor of meeting Ms. Ledbetter. She is not a loud and energetic speaker. You wouldn’t see her and think “my goodness, what a mover and shaker!” in fact, we didn’t even realize we were sitting next to her at an event until she was introduced. She is simply an even-keeled person who stood up for what she knew was right.

When I was studying engineering, I remember when my college chemistry professor made a sexist comment and many thought he was hilarious. For too long, prejudice against women’s knowledge and skills has been put down and dismissed. It was part of the groundwater that girls aren’t good at math. Maybe this assumption led to the thinking that employers could pull a fast one on women’s pay.

Talia – welcome to a world that you helped make happen. A world where women in the workforce are paid equally. A world where girls are just as good at math. A world where people of all backgrounds can dream of becoming whatever they want and where the person you helped elect will work to provide opportunities for those dreams to come true.

I love you and can’t wait to see how high and far the fantastic wings you (and your brother) are growing and which this community is helping nurture take you!

Love,
Mom

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One response to “Letter to Talia about Lilly Ledbetter

  1. Deirdre Anderson

    Love this, Suzi- just beautiful. Can I share it with my Susie? Just read

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/29/AR2009012903894.html

    Leaves me stressed out. Are you getting any response? Think of you all the time and loved seeing you on HBO for the concert. As always THANK YOU for all that you did and all you continue to do xoxo Deirdre

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