"Grace and Grit":
A Discussion Guide

In honor of the WRJ Pay Equity initiative and WRJ Jane Evans Pursuit of Justice Award winner Lilly Ledbetter, who will be a featured speaker at WRJ Assembly 2015, we encourage sisterhoods and communities to learn more about pay equity by reading and discussing Lilly Ledbetter's book Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond. Below are some discussion questions for you and your community to consider as you read and afterward.

  1. In the prologue, Lilly describes being humiliated and ashamed when she got the note listing her salary and the salaries of the men who held her position and made significantly more than she did. She compares her suspicions about being paid less to suspicions of her spouse having an affair. Do these emotions (and the others she describes) resonate for you? What emotions might you expect to have in a similar situation?
  2. Chapter three describes Lilly’s journey back into the workforce and then to Goodyear. She describes the arrival of the civil rights and women’s rights movements and the marital issues arising from, in part, her desire to work. When her mother asks, “Shouldn’t you be doing what a woman’s supposed to do?” What does she mean? Did you or your family members (e.g., mother, grandmother) struggle with changing expectations for women in the 1960’s and 70’s? How so? Do we still struggle with what “a woman’s supposed to do?” If yes, how so?
  3. Also in chapter three Lilly describes her and her family’s struggles with balancing work life and household life (e.g., kids, chores). How have you struggled with that balance? How does your strategy compare with Lilly’s?
  4. In chapters four and five Lilly describes her sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor at Goodyear. She also describes rubber poisoning and other unpleasant aspects of the work. Yet, when called back to Goodyear after her layoff, she goes. She is paid more at Goodyear than at Tyson. Does that explain her choice? Do you think she had something to prove? Have you ever made a choice or opted for something you knew you disliked to prove a point?
  5. Lilly describes her joy at competitive ballroom dancing. Do you find joy in activities outside of work and family? Which ones? How do “extracurricular” activities help provide balance in your life?
  6. In chapter six, the outplacement counselor asks Lilly, “Why in heaven’s name do you want to work for a company that treats you like this?” By this time, Lilly is determined to earn her retirement, but is suffering physically and emotionally from the stress. She thinks it is too late to get out. Is it? Have you ever felt trapped in the wrong place (a job, a marriage etc.), having stayed "too long" to get out?
  7. When Lilly talks to her husband Charlie after she discovers the pay discrepancy, he is immediately supportive. She says, “I’ve never loved him more than in that moment.” Have you ever had a moment like that, where someone said or did something that was just so right?
  8. Lilly says she was coping with the loss of her mom better than the loss of Goodyear. She asks why? What do you think? What does Goodyear represent for her? Can you relate to those feelings? Has something ever taken on that significance for you?
  9. Chapter nine quotes from Justice Ginsburg’s dissent in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. It is rare that a U.S. Supreme Court justice reads a dissent from the bench; why do you think Ginsburg decided to do so in this case?
  10. Lilly writes that Justice Ginsburg understood at least in part because she was a woman, and that having women on the U.S. Supreme Court is therefore important. Do you agree? Are there other reasons why it’s important to have women on the Court?
  11. Lilly describes the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, the Democratic convention, and President Obama’s inauguration. To what extent do you believe pay equity and sex discrimination are, or are not, partisan issues? Should pay equity be a partisan issue, or should it be something people support regardless of party or ideology?
  12. Lilly writes, “the true test of an individual is not so much what happens to her, but how she reacts to it.” Do you agree? To what extent is our character measured by what we can control and what we cannot control, and how we deal with that?