Last Updated 19 Jan 2023

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Biography & Facts

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As females it is important for us to look towards a better future, one of better understanding and a better ground. However what is not be be done, is to overlook the great women and the struggles that they have over came for us to function as a society today. Women as a majority in the world are still considered to be inferior to men.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg took the knowledge of being lesser, and strived for greater things, lending herself on the highest court system that is in the United States. To fully gain a sense of understanding as to what an accomplished and amazing women she is we must first venture back towards the beginning of her journey into what she has become today.

Ruth Joan Bader was born in Brooklyn, New York on the fifteenth of March in 1933 to her parents Nathan and Celia (“Ruth Bader Ginsburg”, 2014). She is a first generation American, on her father side due to his emigration from Russia. Her parents both being of Jewish descent, did not have the financial ability to place themselves through higher education.

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Her mother, Celia seeing as she was not able to pursue higher education for herself, after being able to graduate high school at age 15; found herself a job in a garment factory. She then put that money towards the furtherance of her brother’s education (Galanes). Her mother was always so dedicated towards Ruth’s education.

Ruth could recall upon several memories of both her and her mother going to the public library, this greatly impact her, as it brought about her desire to read and learn. Ruth went to Madison High School in Brooklyn, and was very involved in academic life. She was both an editor and writer for their high school Newspaper Highway Herald, she also was a member of the pep-squad Go-Getters, that participated in several social events within the school.

Her mother is the one women she looks up to the most, due to her strive for perseverance and her integrity. Sadly the day before Ruth was meant to graduate high school, her mother passed away due to a long fought battle with Cancer. This was only the beginning towards her long fought battle towards the state of success she has today.

In spite of her Mother’s untimely passing Ruth continued to further her education. She had several colleges interested in her, and settled upon Cornell University. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, known the United States most prestigious honor society, in the account that it is the oldest. She met her husband Martin Ginsberg, whom was a year her senior at Cornell University and they were married a month after her graduation in 1954.

Her husband had finished his first year at Harvard University, and she was accepted to go there as well upon her graduation. Unfortunately, things didn't go according to plan and they had to move to Fort Sill, Oklahoma due to the draft of Martin to the army. In the duration of their stay there, Ruth decided to use her degree to get a job at the Social Security Office of Lawton, Oklahoma.

She was being trained for a higher paying position that she qualified for, until her boss discovered she was pregnant. After this discovery was made, her position was taken away. She was left with the tasks of working at a job she was overqualified for, and that had a lesser pay grade.

Within the following year, Martin, Ruth and her her fourteen month old Jane returned to Massachusetts so that Ruth could begin her first year at Harvard Law School. Ruth was the odd women out, literally. Her class consisted of five-hundred males and only nine females. It was common for males of authority at that school to target those females, often calling on them in class and singling them out for a ‘laugh’.

Even the Dean, Erwin Griswold joined in on the ‘fun’. At a dinner he asked each one of the women to stand up and give reason why they could be in the position that they are in, knowing a male was much more ‘qualified’ for it (Halberstam).

Alongside being a student, she had to be both a mother and wife as well. In 1955 while she was admitted to Harvard, her husband Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and spent most of his day at home. She not only attended her own classes and had her own workload, but she also was responsible for attending lectures, taking notes and even typing papers for her husband.

Due to all of these factors she was elected onto the Harvard Law Review. In 1958 her husband Martin completed his studies at Harvard with Ruth's help, and he accepted a job at a New York Law Firm. Ruth once again had to make the sacrifice of continuing her education and relocated to New York in order to keep her family together.

Harvard Law School refused to give her a degree on the account she transferred after her second year, yet Columbia University where she went after her relocation to New York gave her a degree despite only completing one year there.

After the long road to her completion of the necessary education, the time for her to join her desired work force came about. On the basis of her record alone as a student, Professor Albert Sacks or Harvard Law school recommended her for the job as a clerk, and she still was not able to get the job on the account she was a woman.

“Not a single law firm in New York” (Carlson 38) in her words, had offered her a position of any sort in relation to her degree. After what seemed to be a endless struggle, she was awarded a job as a clerk by Judge Edmund Palmieri.

After this her career slowly began to ascend upwards, more job opportunities began to flow her way. She partook in several legal events leading up to time at Rutgers, were she was able to act as Professor of Law, very view places at that time allowed for women to have those positions. It was here where Ruth began her involvement with the idea or gender discrimination and women’s rights.

One of Ruth’s defining moments within her fight towards gender inequality, was the arguments she made in supporting the case Reed vs. Reed before the Supreme Court. The case consisted of a divorced couple, arguing over who has the right to the estate of their deceased son. In a section of Idaho law it stated that “males must be preferred to females” when dealing out the administration of estates .

Ruth acted as a brief on this case; she argued that like the racial discrimination laws, laws based off of gender should be be evaluated due to the actuality of their potential impact. This became moment of awakening for her and she sought out cases that involved gender discrimination and appeared before the Supreme Court several more times.

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