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Reflecting on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy

8 professional female powerhouses reflect on RBG’s legacy.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazer for gender equality, passed away on Friday, September 18. Throughout her lifetime, the Columbia Law graduate has accomplished major milestones while advocating for civil rights.

According to CNN, she is the first woman to be hired with tenure at Columbia University School of Law, she launched the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project and she is the second woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. In 1974, RBG’s efforts led to the passing of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which allowed women to apply for bank accounts, credit cards and mortgages without a male co-signer.

Women having the right and freedom to be in charge of their own credit cards, savings and financial future is a huge part of Ruth’s legacy. Finder.com asked several career women about RBG’s lasting impact on their own professions and financial lives as a tribute to her countless achievements.

Sarah Barness headshot
Sarah Barness
Credit cards editor, Finder.com

RBG worked on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which passed in 1974 and allowed women to apply for bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages without a male co-signer. How has RBG’s Equal Credit Opportunity Act impacted the way you approach personal finance, using a credit card, opening a savings account, etc.?

Thanks to RBG’s legacy, women can take the reins of their own financial futures. As a person who works in personal finance, I am especially interested in how women impact credit card spending trends, and how credit cards have been a liberating tool for women. With credit cards, women have started businesses, paid for their education, managed debt, and have made big purchases over time.

Personally, credit cards have been the primary way I am able to travel across the country to see family. Redeeming miles using a travel credit card makes this affordable. I am also considering renting a new apartment, which will be doable for me as I’ve built a positive credit history over the last couple of years.

In what ways has Ruth’s legacy affected your career? What have you been able to accomplish in the workforce as a result of RBG’s efforts?

I’m a credit cards editor with a mission to make information about credit cards accessible and digestible. I am able to do this, in part, because I can pull from my personal experiences with credit cards and managing finances. My deep understanding of credit cards enables me to impart knowledge effectively and clearly. If it wasn’t for RGB helping women have access to credit cards without a male co-signer, I don’t think I would be in the role I am today. Generally speaking, I can thank RGB for my job.

What lessons have you learned from RBG’s time as a Supreme Court Justice?

I have learned just how important financial freedom is. Being able to own a credit card goes far beyond just being able to make big purchases or manage debt. It’s about being able to build credit so you can have the life you want — whether that’s starting a business, going to school, renting an apartment, or buying a home.

Kelly Anne Smith headshot
Kelly Anne Smith
Personal finance reporter, Forbes Advisor

RBG worked on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which passed in 1974 and allowed women to apply for bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages without a male co-signer. How has RBG’s Equal Credit Opportunity Act impacted the way you approach personal finance, using a credit card, opening a savings account, etc.?

RBG’s work has made it possible for us to speak directly to women about big-picture personal finance topics — like building wealth, becoming a homeowner, and even being the family breadwinner. Women don’t sit on the sidelines in their financial lives, and through RBG’s work, we have the opportunity to have direct dialogue on how they can achieve financial greatness.

Kara Stevens headshot
Kara Stevens
Speaker, author & founder, The Frugal Feminista

In what ways has Ruth’s legacy affected your career? What have you been able to accomplish in the workforce as a result of RBG’s efforts?

Part of Ginsburg’s legacy is in the work that she has done to debunk and erode gender and cultural norms that herded women toward caregiving and men toward work. The body of her legislative work has made it possible for more women to work, Black women to (theoretically) be in a position to receive equitable access to employment opportunities, and single mothers to have more agency and resources to provide for their children.

She’s also helped men see how gender binary policies in employment and financial benefits harm us all — especially those of us that operate outside of these norms.

Beverly Harzog headshot
Beverly Harzog
Credit card expert and consumer finance analyst, U.S. News & World Report

In what ways has Ruth’s legacy affected your career? What have you been able to accomplish in the workforce as a result of RBG’s efforts?

Justice Ginsburg’s efforts for a woman’s right to financial equality helped make my career possible. I’ve been a credit card expert for quite a long time, but 50 years ago, I would’ve been blocked from doing this. Today, I never feel as if I’m taken less seriously in this field because I’m a woman.

What lessons have you learned from RBG’s time as a Supreme Court Justice?

She was an outspoken voice who stood up for her beliefs regardless of the opposition. But she also listened to opposing viewpoints and didn’t demonize other justices for their beliefs. Respecting others’ beliefs is somewhat rare today and she set an example for all of us.

Winnie Sun headshot
Winnie Sun
Managing director & co-founder, Sun Group Wealth Partners

RBG worked on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which passed in 1974 and allowed women to apply for bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages without a male co-signer. How has RBG’s Equal Credit Opportunity Act impacted the way you approach personal finance, using a credit card, opening a savings account, etc.?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a mighty powerhouse! She paved the way for women like myself to apply for bank accounts, mortgages, and credit cards all without a male co-signer! This is something we all take for granted, but financial independence is true independence.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed and promoted fairness for all. It wasn’t just for women, but for men, and for anyone who needed a voice. In the financial industry, we are so grateful that she set another standard for Social Security survivor benefits. In the 1970s, Ginsburg won two cases in the 1970s representing men who were not granted survivor benefits under Social Security because of their gender. The case now set the standard for how the constitution interprets sex-based laws. This is what lasting RBG leadership looks like.
Additionally, many of our wealth management clients are women. They are C-level executives, business owners, primary breadwinners, and mothers, daughters, caregivers. They were able to rise to the top of industries and Ruth Ginsburg and her inspiring role, rulings, and cases contributed to that, for so many of us.

Julie Kalkowski headshot
Julie Kalkowski
Executive director, Financial Hope Collaborative at Creighton

What lessons have you learned from RBG’s time as a Supreme Court Justice?

Instead of hammering away at how unequally and unfairly women were being treated in America, she found cases with male plaintiffs. By showing how discrimination can negatively affect us all, she woke the Supreme Court Justices up when they realized it could happen to them.

“RBG called us to be better than we were. Her belief in the rule of law, her commitment to helping America live up to its ideals gave her the unflagging energy to right the wrongs she saw. RBG left America a much better place than when she started. She demonstrated that inclusivity makes us all better… that it doesn’t diminish us as a country.

Erin Lowry headshot
Erin Lowry
Author, 3-part Broke Millennial series

In what ways has Ruth’s legacy affected your career? What have you been able to accomplish in the workforce as a result of RBG’s efforts?

I’d argue my ability to have the career I do is built entirely on the foundation laid by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and all the women who fought for women’s equality and equity. She also modeled a way to have a successful marriage, children and build a masterful career and legacy. It helps that she married a man who supported her dreams and provided allyship at a time it was essential for the advancement of women.

Natalie Issa headshot
Natalie Issa
Content specialist, Credit.com

RBG worked on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which passed in 1974 and allowed women to apply for bank accounts, credit cards, and mortgages without a male co-signer. How has RBG’s Equal Credit Opportunity Act impacted the way you approach personal finance, using a credit card, opening a savings account, etc.?

Without RBG’s work on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, I wouldn’t have any financial independence. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act allowed women to apply for credit cards, mortgages and loans without a male cosigner. Before the act was passed, women were constantly being turned down when applying for credit cards.

Credit cards, mortgages, loans—we need them all to build credit. So not only would I not be able to handle my own finances and credit cards without a cosigner, I probably wouldn’t have a credit score that allows me to rent my own apartment and live independently.

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