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Civil rights leader Anita Hill visits Idaho

University of Idaho College of Law Bellwood speaker Anita Hill gives remarks at the Grove Hotel in Boise October 10. Photo by Patrick Sweeney

University of Idaho College of Law Bellwood speaker Anita Hill addresses a crowd at the Grove Hotel in Boise October 10. Photo by Patrick Sweeney

Civil rights and women’s rights leader Anita Hill made her first-ever visit to Idaho the week of Oct. 9, visiting Boise to deliver remarks before 500 people at a University of Idaho reception before traveling to northern Idaho to speak in Moscow.

Hill became famous in 1991 when she testified about sexual harassment at work before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Thomas was confirmed, but Hill became an icon for women’s rights leaders.

Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., has been speaking worldwide about equal rights in the workplace for the last 26 years. Standing at a podium at the Grove Hotel in Boise Oct. 10, Hill said that the myths surrounding sexual harassment and the women who report it persist today. Women who report harassment can face very real consequences in the workplace, she said. For telling members of Congress that she had been harassed by her supervisor, she was threatened and vilified both on Capitol Hill and by members of the public.

“All these attacks on victims do have a chilling effect,” Hill said. But the laws have changed to protect some of the rights of those who report harassment, Hill said.

University of Idaho College of Law Bellwood speaker Anita Hill gives remarks at the Grove Hotel in Boise Oct. 10. Photo by Patrick Sweeney

University of Idaho College of Law Bellwood speaker Anita Hill meets supporters at the Grove Hotel in Boise Oct. 10. Photo by Patrick Sweeney

“Fortunately for us, women and men around the country did not allow the hearing, the way it took place, to be the final word,” she said. “We’ve refused to allow the hearings and our circumstances to silence us – we’ve started a public conversation.”

Like many policy and business leaders, Hill is making pay equity a priority in her work and in her speaking engagements. According to the Pew Research Center, women earned 83 percent of what men earned in 2015. The Research Center analyzed median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time U.S. workers.The gender gap in pay has narrowed since 1980, especially among younger workers

In order for the issue of pay inequality to be studied fully, Hill said, companies must be encouraged to submit pay information so scholars and analysts can use it to assess where the inequities lie.

“We have made gains in many professions,” she said. “With those gains come increased attention to how we measure equality. Marches all over the world prove women and men will not shrink from the challenges that face us.”

 

 

 

 

 

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