Ever hear of Winifred Stanley? The first person to introduce equal pay legislation in Congress? Me neither, but a recent Washington Post article changed that.
Rep. Winifred C. Stanley was a Buffalo, NY, Republican, who gained a congressional seat on a $6 campaign budget. Despite a successful career as a tough prosecutor who won the rights of women to serve on New York state juries, she was often described as the best dressed woman in public life “with a flawless complexion and figure.”
In 1944, a few months after taking a congressional seat, Stanley introduced her equal pay bill with support from women’s and civil rights groups. She hoped to maintain the “drive and energy which women have contributed to the [World War II] effort.” If the bill didn’t pass, she said, Congress would continue to pay “lip service to those glorious and fundamental guarantees of our nation’s heritage.”
The bill died in committee.
To pile on the agony, New York Rep. James W. Wadsworth Jr., who opposed women in the workplace, and who, naturally, was in charge of assignments, kept Stanley off the Judiciary Committee because, “a woman’s place was in the home.”
Yes, he actually said that, and Stanley was assigned to the patent committee.