Related: Civil & Human Rights, Education, In the Media, Money, Politics, Social Issues, Social Justice Issues, Women, Women's Leadership, Workforce Issues

Supreme Injustice


The Supremes are at it again, rolling back the clock to an age when the wimmin knew their place, came together only at the beauty parlor, card parties or baby showers — surely not for class action lawsuits.  Some of the wimmin had just got out of hand, darn tootin’, tryin’ to mess up that good old upstanding All-American (‘cept for those items made in Chinese sweatshops) Wal-Mart.  Imagine this:  the wimmin trying to band together to accuse that great icon Wal-Mart of doing something as thoroughly un-American as engaging in sex discrimination.  Why, fellas, back in the day we never heard of sex discrimination!  Wimmin were happy to work for 70 cents on the dollar back then.  Yessir!  Seems like now we hear about sex discrimination when the wimmin go gettin’ into those pesky class action groups!

So, in their infinite wisdom, the Supreme Court has put the women in their place, declaring that 1.5 million female workers of Wal-Mart cannot band together to bring a class action lawsuit on the grounds of gender discrimination in pay and promotion.  Women work 70 percent of the hourly jobs at Wal-Mart, but are only 33 percent of management.

That irrepressible expert on sex discrimination, Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote that the volume of statistical evidence presented by the plaintiffs was inadequate to support the claim of discrimination.   He’d surely know it if he saw it.

Ironically, the morning headline in the Washington Post today was about the increasingly large wealth gap in this nation, a gap driven by executive compensation, and the Post included a specific report on CEO compensation in the Washington region.   Out of 100 CEO’s on the list of the most highly paid executives in the Washington region,  only four are female.  Yes.  Four out of 100 top CEOs are women.  I know it when I see it.

A recent study of the ‘worth’ of college majors as determined by the average wages of people who used their major in specific lines of work revealed that engineering pays the most, and counseling psychology pays the least.  Guess which genders dominate in each field?  No surprises there!  I know it when I see it.

Sex discrimination in the workplace is real.  Poverty is a women’s issue.  Sex discrimination at work prevents women from rising up the corporate ladders into more lucrative positions.  Sex discrimination at work prevents women from joining the ranks of the most well-paid CEO’s, and, hence, from sharing equally in the burgeoning wealth at the uppermost strata of society — unless, of course, she marries well.  Sure, we can point to exceptions.  Four women out of 100 CEO’s.  The occasional remarkable success story — Oprah.  But for every Martine A. Rothblatt (CEO, United Therapeutics, the highest paid woman on the list) thousands of women are stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart while their male bosses take home the big paychecks.

People sometimes ask me why women’s colleges persist.  I mean, really, haven’t the wimmin made it?  Haven’t you made enough trouble?  Didn’t you get what you wanted?  Look, you’ve got Three Supremes, Secretary Clinton, heck, even the Speaker for a while — aren’t you satisfied?

Women must not be satisfied.  The Revolution is far from over.  Sex discrimination in the workplace remains an ever-present reality for millions of women in this nation.  Women’s colleges are among the few places on this earth where women’s power and potential receive daily encouragement, where women learn to be strong leaders and persistent advocates for justice. We still need such places because women still face discrimination and discouragement every day.

Women’s colleges will persist until wimmin no longer suffer a majority of male Supremes telling them that they cannot sue together to vindicate their rights.

Women’s colleges will persist until women run Wal-Mart.

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: