Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been breaking glass ceilings for decades. She has long been a powerful advocate for gender equality and women’s rights.
Justice Ginsburg took the oath of office 25 years ago, in August of 1993. She was just the second female justice to be appointed to the Court, following Sandra Day O’Connor.
Ginsburg had already broken ground as the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. She also served as the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU before being appointed to the Supreme Court. Her ideas about women, work and success are just as pioneering and revolutionary as her extraordinary life.
Here are just a few quotes from Justice Ginsburg to inspire you in your life and your career:
- “I had great good fortune in my life to be alive and have the skills of a lawyer when the women’s movement was revived in the United States. And I think my attitude, my aspirations have not changed since the ’70s. My hope for our society that we’re gonna use the talent of all of the people and not just half of them.”
- “I think unconscious bias is one of the hardest things to get at. My favorite example is the symphony orchestra. When I was growing up, there were no women in orchestras. Auditioners thought they could tell the difference between a woman playing and a man. Some intelligent person devised a simple solution: Drop a curtain between the auditioners and the people trying out. And, lo and behold, women began to get jobs in symphony orchestras.”
- “Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.”
- “I – try to teach through my opinions, through my speeches, how wrong it is to judge people on the basis of what they look like, color of their skin, whether they’re men or women.”
- On the #MeToo Movement: “I think it will have staying power because people, and not only women, men as well as women, realize how wrong the behavior was and how it subordinated women. So we shall see, but my prediction is that it is here to stay.”
- “If you’re a boy, and you like teaching, you like nursing, you would like to have a doll, that’s okay… we should each be free to develop our own talents, whatever they may be and not be held back by artificial barriers.”
- “My first encounter with [clubs that were men-only] was when my husband was working for a law firm in New York, and they had a holiday party at a club that did not admit women. The women associates let it be known that that was improper. They weren’t listened to. So the next year, none of the women associates showed up at the holiday party. And the year after that, the holiday party was held at a place that welcomed women as well as men.”
- “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
- “We are doing a lot better. When I was in my last year of law school, I was attending Columbia Law School, my daughter was between three and four. There was only one nursery school in that entire area. They would take a child from 9 to 12 or 2 to 5. By the time my daughter was a mother herself, and teaching at Columbia Law School, there were over two dozen full day daycare facilities in that area. A few of my law clerks have taken parental leave, male law clerks. It’s more common than it once was.”
- “You can’t have it all, all at once. Who — man or woman — has it all, all at once? Over my lifespan, I think I have had it all. But in different periods of time, things were rough.”
- “No one who is in business for profit can foist his or her beliefs on a workforce that includes many people who do not share those beliefs.”
- “Just think how you would like the women in your family to be treated, particularly your daughters. And when you see men behaving in ways they should not, you should tell them this is improper behavior.”
- “Our goal in the ’70s was to end the closed door era. There were so many things that were off limits to women, policing, firefighting, mining, piloting planes. All those barriers are gone. And the stereotypical view of people of a world divided between home and child caring women and men as breadwinners, men representing the family outside the home, those stereotypes are gone. So we speak of parent – rather than mother and wage earner rather than male breadwinner.”
- “We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society, because we fit into a certain mold ― because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination.”
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