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Posted on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:48 a.m.

Equal pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter to give lecture at the University of Michigan

By Kellie Woodhouse

Lilly Ledbetter, an advocate for gender equality in the workplace, will give a lecture at the University of Michigan in October.


Lilly Ledbetter

AP Photo

In her talk, Ledbetter will recount her story of discrimination at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and the subsequent legal battle that resulted in the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Barack Obama's first piece of legislation as president.

Ledbetter discovered after working for Goodyear for 19 years that she was earning less than her male counterparts. She sued Goodyear for discrimination, and won in lower court. She lost on appeal and, eight years after she first sued, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against her. The court said that she should have filed suit within 180 days of her first unequal paycheck, even though she did not know of the pay discrepancy at the time.

A question-and-answer period with the audience and a book signing of Ledbetter's book Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond will follow the lecture.

Her talk, cosponsored by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the women’s studies department, is titled "Equal Work, Equal Pay," and is this year's installment of U-M's annual Vivian R. Shaw lecture. It will take place Oct. 2 at 7 p.m in Rackham Auditorium, at 915 E. Washington St.

Michigan is ranked 46th in the nation for wage parity, according to a U-M press release.

In 2010, the typical woman in Michigan working full-time, year-round, was paid $0.74 for every dollar paid to a man working full-time, year-round. This is $0.03 wider than the nationwide wage gap of $0.77, according to the National Women's Law Center.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

Timely news related to Ledbetter:

Usual Suspect

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 4:59 a.m.

Hoping for another uninvite.

Sam Smith

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

Wow, The U of M is allowing her to speak, great news. Of course most people in Michigan are against equal pay. Esp the Republicans. who even against a minimum wage.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

A conversation regarding who has to go (lay off): The Boss: I have to let you go. The female employee: Why me? Have you kept telling me that I have done great job on research? The Boss: I can not keep you and xxxxxxx (A name of a male employee) at same time. You both are great, but we have funding shortage for next 6 months. The female employee: How about we both work part time for next 6 months? The Boss: He just had a baby, he has a family to support. You have your husband to support your family........


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

The Boss: He just had a baby, he has a family to support. You have your husband support your family........

Jay Thomas

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:11 p.m.

It was discovered that the democrats were paying women less for doing the same work in both the House of Representatives and the White house shortly after the same democrats made their claims that there was a war on women going on. I wonder what her thoughts might be about that. Maybe I'll have to attend so I can ask.

Paul Wehr

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:10 p.m. Analysis done on public information available at (for example)


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

And your source for this is ?

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8 p.m.

We need to eliminate bias, not codify it with more affirmative action and quotas.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:32 a.m.

Nicholas you made an erroneous comment earlier compairing a female cashier to a male laborer in compairing equal pay for equal work is it safe to assume that you didnt comprehend the article? I wish I could override the bias of this websites rating system and give you 10 votes down


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

How do you suggest we eliminate bias? Most businesses are in it for the money, not to correct social injustice.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

Just because the job title or description matches does not mean the results match. Nobody does the "same job" as someone else. To suggest women should get equal pay suggests that all men should get the same pay, and all women should get the same pay. That notion is absurd.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

Women doing the same job a man is doing should be paid less, because ..... ????????

Joe Kidd

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

U of M has a salary increase policy based (supposedly) on merit. How does that fit with this issue? I am aware of female employees whose performance is far inferior to males in the same position, but because of this issue, the merit system was nil and void. The equal pay issue took over no matter how many years of service, which under merit pay causes differences in pay rates among employees. U of M, like most places that use merit pay always does it wrong, with really no motivation to do better work because you know it does not matter. The equal pay for women trumps merit based pay increases.

Joe Kidd

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

Exactly UloveM, and this topic is one of those political moves. Also it is used to close the gap between people of various levels, but that is not how merit is supposed to be used. That appears to make an inefficient employee appear to be a highly productive employee. Sparty you are correct, but most employers do not award increases based on merit properly. Issues: You only get it once a year, so after you get it, your motivation to get more disappears. Two, you are never told what you have to do in your performance to earn x amount or y amount and so on. Three, the amount usually is not high enough to be a real motivational factor. Four, despite how productive you are, one goof can torpedo you raise and if you goof just before raise time you are screwed. Where it is really insulting is when you hear the 3% is the average and you are a superior employee, but you get less than that so that the organization can raise pay for less productive employees and avoid accusations of this discrimination by gender or race, etc. A negative is that if it is done properly and a long term high quality employee gets a proper merit raise, then the gap widens. It also widens when employees all get the same raise, and that causes a rift. So it is probably better to institute some sort of longevity pay for years served that is an equal amount. It creates a poor work environment when you call it merit pay but it isn't.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:28 p.m.

If the merit budget is 3% ON AVERAGE, doesn't that mean that some get 0%, some get 1%, some get 2%, some get 3%, some get 4%, some get 5%, some get 6% .... presumably based on merit so that it averages out to that 3% budget?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

The "Merit" raise is about 3% in average each year at UM. It is not really based on employee's performance, and often be used for playing the politics.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Equal pay for Equal work. Showing up does not entitle anyone to equal pay. How often do we see businesses where the women solely operate the cash registers, while the men are in the physical roles?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

But this legislation was about equal pay for equal work. Your comment is not about doing the same job (women working the registers and men working more physical roles) so it is not relevant. If a woman and a man are doing the same job, they should be paid equally absent any performance differential, right ?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

So how much is UM paying her for this appearance and how does that compare to others of different genders?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

I just heard she was "uninvited".


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Unless a donor sneezes.