1. Lilly Ledbetter
Heard of a little thing called the Lilly Ledbetter Act? Oh yeah, it’s named after this chick! Lilly Ledbetter, a Goodyear employee, tried to sue the company after she realized that she was being paid unequally to her male colleagues. However, the courts ruled that she was past the statute of limitations, which expired 180 days after she received her first unequal paycheck. Honestly ridiculous. Ledbetter continued to appeal until her case got to the Supreme Court where she lost again. This was one of RBG’s most famous dissenting opinions. However, Congress took matters into their own hands and in 2009, Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This Act means that the statute of limitations resets after each unequal paycheck so women have more time to bring a lawsuit against their company.
2. Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Bow down, bitches. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the Queen of Equal Pay if there ever was one. RBG’s built her entire career on standing up for women and using the law to fight for equality. During her time with the ACLU, she argued over 300 gender discrimination cases. Justice Ginsberg is known for her scathing dissents and the special collar she wears when she presents them. RBG wrote the dissent for Ledbetter v. Goodyear and read it from the bench, which is not usually done. Ginsberg wrote “In our view, the court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination.”
3. Kangela Moore
Kangela Moore had worked as a school safety officer in New York for over 20 years when she realized she was making $7,000 less than her male counterparts, conveniently called “peace officers”, but doing the same exact job. Moore joined a class-action lawsuit against New York City and stood up at a rally to call for equal pay. The lawsuit brought about a $38 million settlement and a 33% pay raise.
4. Reverend Addie Wyatt
Addie Wyatt was a Civil Rights and women’s rights activist who paved the way for blue collar workers, particularly African Americans. After she started working in a packinghouse, she joined the United Packinghouse Workers of America and quickly rose to the top because of her amazing negotiating style. She often found herself “fighting on behalf of workers, fighting as a black, and fighting as a female.” Wyatt later founded the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the first and only organization for labor union women. She fought unequal pay and created policies for equal pay for equal work in the years before the Equal Rights Act of 1963.
5. Rosa DeLauro (D- Conn.)
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro is the most outspoken champion of equal rights in Congress today. Representative DeLauro introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in every Congress since 1997 and will continue to fight until she sees equal pay for equal work. With more woman than ever in Congress, this is the time to make the bill our number one priority.
6. Cristina Hendricks
You may know her from Mad Men or Good Girls, but this actress has stepped up in the fight for equal pay. Cristina Hendricks partnered with Funny or Die to create a sketch highlighting how outdated unequal pay is. While portraying her Mad Men character who doesn't know how to function in a modern-day office, she says “I figure, if we are going to run our businesses like it's the 1960s, I'm going to act like it is." Take that, wage gap.
7. USA Women’s Soccer team
The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team has been fighting with U.S. Soccer for years to get equal pay and equal treatment. They say that they are forced to play more games than the men’s team, win more games than the men’s team, but are still paid less, and have worse working and travel conditions. These top woman athletes are calling out the “institutionalized gender discrimination” and have recently taken to social media and the press to discuss their grievances.
8. Esther Peterson
Esther Peterson was the head of the Women’s Bureau under President Kennedy and pushed him to create policies that would ensure progress for women. Through her work at the Bureau, she gathered data about working women and pay discrimination that led to the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
9. Betty Dukes
Back in the 2000s there were rumors floating around that Walmart was not paying its female employees equally to its male employees and promoting men more than women. Betty Dukes saw this first-hand as a Walmart employee and decided to take on the company in a class-action lawsuit. Dukes realized that she was not given as many promotional opportunities as her male colleagues and eventually discovered that although 72% of Walmart employees are women, only ⅓ of management positions are held by women. The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, which unfortunately sided with Walmart. Since the loss, Dukes has helped lead employees in smaller lawsuits against the company and helped create the Equal Employment Opportunity Restoration Act.
10. Stacey Allaster
Did you know that men and women in professional sports often receive unequal payments for prize money? That’s right, in sports like basketball, soccer, and golf men receive much higher salaries and prizes than women. Thanks to Stacey Allaster, this no longer happens in tennis. Allaster, the head of the Women’s Tennis Association, organized players, politicians and the public to push for pay parity. She said, “This issue of parity is not a women's issue. It's a societal issue that needs to be resolved by men and women.”
BONUS SHERO: Beyonce
This outspoken feminist has always stood up for women’s rights and equality in her music, her business, and her brands. In an interview with GQ, she said that it’s time that women stop accepting that we get paid less than men and start to stand up for ourselves. Thanks, Queen B!