The Grace and Grit of Lilly Ledbetter

April 16, 2012

Grace and Grit by Lilly LedbetterWhen Lilly Ledbetter sat next to me at the AAUW National Convention last June, I almost burst into tears. Somehow I managed to hold it together, reattach the lower portion of my jaw, and lean over to awkwardly whisper, “It’s an honor to sit next to you.”

“Oh, aren’t you sweet?” Ledbetter responded, reaching over to pat my knee and sliding a little closer to me as we both turned back to watch the speaker. After a minute, she leaned over again. “I can’t see from here, so I’m just going to sit over there,” she said, motioning to the chair two seats from me. I nodded dumbly and smiled again and spent the rest of the presentation trying not to stare at her too much.

That’s a long way of saying that I’m a big fan of hers. So when the chance to review Ledbetter’s new autobiography, Grace and Grit, became available, I jumped on it. It’s not every day that you get to meet your feminist heroes, and I wanted to be better prepared in case I ever got the opportunity again.

As I wrote in the most recent issue of AAUW Outlook, reading Grace and Grit showed me a whole new side to a story I thought I knew. For the first time, Lilly opened up about the rampant and disgusting sexual harassment she experienced at Goodyear, on top of the blatant and prolonged pay discrimination. The story is gripping — I found myself sneaking away from beach time with my friends to find out what happened to Ledbetter next, even though I knew how the story ends!

In Grace and Grit, Ledbetter talks about growing up in rural Alabama and how she wasn’t allowed to go to college because she was a girl. Eventually, she went to work to help support her family, and while that decision ultimately led her to where she is today, it cost her years of mistreatment at the hands of Goodyear and strained relationships with her mother, husband, and children.

Lilly Ledbetter (left) with AAUW Executive Director Linda HallmanLast month, AAUW and the Sewall-Belmont House hosted Ledbetter at the first D.C.-area discussion and signing of Grace and Grit, and she was generous enough to sign a copy for us to give away. I’m positive that anyone who cares enough about social justice to read this blog will enjoy this book, especially a free, autographed copy. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below telling us why fair pay is an important issue for the 2012 election.

If you’re not lucky enough to win a copy, you can purchase the book at your local bookstore or on Amazon. Buy it. Read it. That way, if you ever get the chance to meet her, you’ll have plenty to talk about.

By:   |   April 16, 2012


  1. Vera says:

    Because my mortgage interest rate is not 18% lower than ones held by my male colleagues.

  2. Janet Hill says:

    Fair Pay is clearly an important issue for the election. Why else would governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin quietly repeal an equal pay law? In football terms a man runs a 100 yards for a touchdown and gets 7 points, a woman runs those same 100 yards to get a touchdown and nets 5 points. And the concept of giving her 7 points is called a job killer! It would be better for women, families and the United States if women had equal pay.

    It’s an important issue for college students as well, once they understand that the women don’t get paid at the same rate as men for the exact same job. You would think that since 1963 we would have managed to fix the issue.

  3. Connie Dunkelberger says:

    There seems to be more negative side issues being exploted up in this election cycle, which clouds fair pay. Pay equity should be one issue that could be the common ground for all sides. The nation needs to create a culture of respect and pay equity would smooth the road for the creative minds of both genders to work on other issues that confront the world.

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