RBG’s Role in Expanding Women’s Equality Reaches Far
To celebrate National Women’s history month, we’re highlighting the impact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) has had, both in the real estate industry and beyond, to properly commemorate and remember her legacy.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Early Life
Ginsburg’s New York pride ran deep; having been born and raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn, RBG always considered herself as Brooklynite through-and-through. As a child, she enjoyed visiting the Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Operas, and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, soaking up the city’s culture in her youth. It was during these formidable years that RBG found her grit and passion for equal rights for women and minorities. Ginsburg reflected on the role that her mother played early on in her career: “"My mother told me two things constantly. One was to be a lady, and the other was to be independent. The study of law was unusual for women of my generation. For most girls growing up in the '40s, the most important degree was not your B.A., but your M.R.S."
RBG’s Harvard Days and Beyond
While she didn’t set out to redefine the fight for civil rights, Ginsburg experienced enough sexism and discrimination throughout her college and post-graduate experience to change the course of her career. Famously, the dean of Harvard asked Ginsburg and the other nine women out of a 500-person class why they were taking up a man’s spot - but she was undeterred. As RBG pursued her law degree through Harvard, she made it her goal to break down the barriers that prevented other women from paving their own way. In 1963, she joined the faculty of Rutgers Law School, but quickly discovered that her pay was substantially lower than that of her male colleagues. To combat this, she joined an equal pay campaign with other female teachers, which resulted in salary increases for all complainants. Soon after, Ginsburg chose to work for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the 1970s. During this time, she founded the Women’s Rights Project, one of the major arms working toward gender equality under law on a national level. It was through her determination, selflessness, and grit that she fought for the equality of women through education, office culture and pay, and homeownership rights, setting the stage so that all women in the United States had the right to a quality life, with or without a man attached.
Ginsburg on Education
Before 1996, state-funded schools were not required to include women. Ginsburg changed that, and soon enough, young women became more likely than young men to graduate from college.
In the case that established Ginsburg as a powerful legislator, 1996 United States v. Virginia, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion stating that it’s unconstitutional for schools funded by taxpayer dollars to bar women from enrolling and earning their degree.
“There is no reason to believe that the admission of women capable of all the activities required of (Virginia Military Institute) cadets would destroy the institute rather than enhance its capacity to serve the ‘more perfect union,’” Ginsburg wrote.
Since the 1990s, women have outnumbered men in both college enrollment and college completion rates, reversing a trend that lasted through the 1960s and 1970s. By 2013, 37% of women ages 25 to 29 had at least a bachelor’s degree compared with 30% of men in the same age range. By 2017, women continued to lead the way, earning the majority of doctoral degrees for the eighth straight year, and outnumbered men with graduate degrees. Much of this success stems from Ginsburg’s work.
Ginsburg on Equal Pay
In 1974, Ginsburg paved the way for the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which allowed women to apply for bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages without requiring a male co-signer. This legislation alone gave women the ability to make their own decisions with the money that they earned and to which they were entitled. The Equal Credit Opportunity act helped to usher in a new wave of economic drivers that quickly proved their worth and positive impact within the country.
Ginsburg on Homeownership
Ginsburg’s efforts in enacting the Equal Credit Opportunity Act created equality for women through financial freedom that not only impacted their freedom’s in regards to loans, credit cards, and financing, but also impacted women’s roles in owning real estate and creating wealth through other streams of income. Having multiple streams of income is one of the quickest ways to becoming financially independent and free.
This act single-handedly changed the buying power of American homes more so than any other social factor. The ability for women to buy their own homes gave a boost to the real estate industry - a sector that is now led by women.
In fact, a 2019 survey indicated that single females accounted for one out of every five home sales. Because of Ginsburg’s efforts, more single women than ever before are obtaining homeownership without a partner.