While council member (and mayoral candidate) Bruce Harrell has staked claim on the gender pay gap issue on his campaign trail—setting gender pay equity legislation at the top of his mayoral promises—it's his colleague, city council member Jean Godden, who's arguably more substantive on this topic.
Godden has called for more specific legislation than Harrell, she's started a council webpage encouraging women to submit stories about their own experiences with pay inequity, her Twitter feed is almost nonstop talking about the issue, with the hashtag #equalpaySEA.
The main reason she's coming out swinging on this? "I’ve been there," she says. As Godden's written about on her own site, she was underpaid as a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "There were three or four male columnists making quite a bit more money than me," she continues. "At the time, I was the sole supporter in my household. My husband had MS... I could have used that money." When the Seattle Times was courting her, she tells me they asked her what it would take for her to switch papers. "I said, 'I want as much money as the men.'"
And for all our jokes about her being a zillion years old (which she gamely responded to by announcing that she wouldn't be inviting us to "my 225th birthday party celebration"), this is a topic on which a woman who's lived and worked as long as Godden has can have a particularly helpful perspective. And frankly, every time I talk to her about the issue she seems like a total badass. "To be honest, I’m running out of patience," she told me this week. They were the first words out of her mouth after a greeting. "We've been talking about this for 50 years."
Does she have the hustle to push legislation through the molasses-thick bullshit at council? We'll have to wait and see. But in the meantime, I'm rooting for a future "New Column!" called "Spanking Patriarchy Right on Its Bottom, by Jean Godden."