U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor believes the gender pay gap is one of the top issues facing the country, she told an audience of students at Brown University on Wednesday.
“Women doing the same work still earn less than men,” Sotomayor told students of the Ivy League school when asked what she believes are the top challenges for women. “You can’t fight the facts. Pay equality is one of the biggest issues our nation faces.”
Sotomayor, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama in 2009, recalled the early years in her career, when there few women who were partners at law firms.
“When I started, firms of 300 or 400 had one or two female partners, and they were touting how progressive they were. What a joke, right?” she said, according to the Associated Press. “They told me that over time, we would reach equality. Well, I started in 1979, and there’s still only one-third women as federal judges, and we’re a lot of women in the profession, so what’s happening?"
Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, is one of three females serving on the high court, alongside Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.
According to an analysis of President Trump’s first 59 nominees to the federal bench conducted by the Washington Post in November, 19 percent are women.
“We still have to fight gender inequality,” Sotomayor said. “It still exists.”
When asked about the current partisanship and division in the country, Sotomayor said it is important for people to discuss the principles behind a disagreement.
“So many people start fighting about the facts and the importance of the facts, as opposed to the importance of the principles that are motivating the discussion,” she said. “You got to get back to that before you can get to the facts.”