24 Sep A tribute for Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Throughout her career, Ruth Bader Ginsberg fought for us, working women. This diminutive woman was called the “Thurgood Marshall of the women’s rights movement” as she, perhaps more than anyone else, advanced the rights of women in the workplace.
- She fought for us so we didn’t have to hide our pregnancy at work.
- She fought for us so we could earn what our male counterparts earned.
- She fought for us so we could have a seat at the table and a voice in every room.
- She fought for us so we could be both leaders and fully ourselves.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, affectionately known in her later years as “RBG” (the Notorious RBG” to some), was our trailblazer. Because of her successful legal work starting in the 1970s arguing before an all-male Supreme Court that the 14th Amendment applied not just to racial discrimination but also to sex-based discrimination, many of us now sit at the head of the table. She may have been one of a kind, but she ensured that she would not be the last of a kind.
Astoundingly, she blazed the way for women in the workplace before she even reached the Supreme Court, the second woman to sit on the highest court of the land. She was one of only nine women in her Harvard Law School class of 552. She was the first tenured woman on the faculty of Columbia Law School. She litigated before the Supreme Court six times in the 1970s, winning five landmark cases, and in the process opening the door for women to demand and expect equal opportunity, not just in the workplace, but in every walk of life.
Starting in 1993 when President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court, she inspired the next generation of women with her reasoned opinions, scalding dissents, wit, and strength (including her challenging gym workouts, memorialized in the book “The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong … And You Can Too!” by her trainer). With her relentlessness, brilliance, and warmth, she demonstrated that a woman could bring her full self to the workplace and succeed, paving the way for and inspiring a new generation of women who could come to expect that a fulfilling career was possible.
As a result, she became an icon. Young women tattooed her image on their body, young girls dressed at RBG at Halloween. Her biography sped to the top of the best-seller list on its first day of publication. A documentary and a feature film on her life were surprise box office hits. Through it all she remained modest and laser-focused on working for justice and equality under the law.
Today we mourn, tomorrow we fight. That’s what Ruth Bader Ginsberg would have wanted.