Ruth entered the Change The Game T-Shirts and I will buy this job market in the 1960s, where few if any women were hired by law firms as lawyers. “In the fifties, the traditional law firms were just beginning to turn around on hiring Jews,” she told an interviewer, “But to be a woman, a Jew, and a mother to boot, that combination was a bit much.” She had difficulties finding a job until one of her Columbia professors persuaded U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri to hire her as a clerk, where she remained for two years, after which she was offered various (underpaid, compared to her male peers) positions at law firms, instead joining the Columbia Project on International Civil Procedure. She briefly moved to Sweden to do research for a book on Swedish Civil procedure, for which she was later awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Lund. “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,” she said in 2014.
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In 1963 Ruth Ginsburg accepted a job as a professor at Rutgers University Law School, and while teaching there she became pregnant with her second child, James, who was born in 1965. She accepted an offer to teach at Columbia in 1972, where she became the Change The Game T-Shirts and I will buy this first female professor to earn tenure. During that time she also directed the American Civil Liberties Union’s newly formed Women’s Rights Project, leading the fight against gender discrimination by strategically selecting to argue sex discrimination cases (typically employment-related) that would help lay the foundation for her larger case: equal rights for women under the law. Ginsburg believed that laws that draw a distinction based on gender should be subjected to strict scrutiny under the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. The problem, as she explained at her confirmation hearings, was that while “race discrimination was immediately perceived as evil, odious, and intolerable,” laws discriminating against women were often justified as protecting women. She chose cases that would show that using gender as a basis for different treatment was harmful not only to women but also to men.