By Meladi Brewer
GREENVILLE — Darke County is paving the way to equal rights by “breaking the glass ceiling.”
On Friday, April 21, members of the community gathered for a time of sharing where other inspired women relayed their stories of injustice and inequality after the Montgomery County Commissioners, Judy Dodge and Deb Lieberman, spoke about their own personal experiences.
Dodge and Lieberman were asked to be featured guests as they are part of the only county in Ohio where all three commissioners are female. The commissioners have worked to bridge the gap between sexes within their county by ensuring there is equal pay for equal work regardless of your gender orientation.
Dodge herself grew up being a female in a family of brothers, and she realized from a young age that women were viewed differently than men, as expectations for the future were drastically different.
“I remember being the only girl – my parents didn’t really come out and say this, but they would say things like ‘you know, Judy, you’re just going to get married and are going to be fine, but the boys need to go to college. We need to save for them to go to college,” Dodge said.
Dodge said it was a big deal. In the 50s she was expected to find a husband, get married, and raise a family, while her brothers were expected to further their education to get a decent job. Expectations were not equal, and in 2023, those gaps have not changed too much as women are still expected to provide childcare for their family without any assistance or affordability.
Dodge continued to explain after high school she had gotten a job as a secretary for the county commissioners where she would see the job postings before passing them along.
“I remember thinking, any of these jobs that were anything besides a secretary, you had to have a college degree. It didn’t matter what it was in,” Dodge said.
Having the thought she could do any of those jobs, Dodge sought after a degree at Wright State. She spoke to a counselor and told them “get me the hell out of here. I need my degree because I can’t go anywhere.”
From there Dodge set out on a journey that led her to running for the county commissioner seat and winning. She said when she was awarded the commissioner position, there were then two female county commissioners – the most there had been at one time. When their male cohort stepped down, it paved the way for the third female commissioner to be sworn into office. Dodge advised “it was like oh my gosh, all of a sudden we’re like people are paying attention to us.”
“Isn’t that amazing? Three male county commissioners don’t get any attention or anything, but three female commissioners you’d think the world had stopped,” Dodge said.
Just like Dodge, Lieberman had experienced inequality from a young age. A core memory she had was when her mother would take her to rallies.
“I remember her dragging me to them for ending abortion and to stop equal rights – seriously,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman had grown up to get involved in local politics upon moving from Indiana to Ohio, and from there she was advised by her husband to run for the open seat in 2004, and she won.
“Dennis (her husband) still says to me ‘the reason you always win is because of my name’ – typical right?” Lieberman said.
Whether members of the community realize they are being sexist or not, jokes and comments about being a stereotypical woman or stating a woman only has what she has because of her husband, does not help break the glass ceiling in order to close the gap between men and women.
“It’s just sad and tragic that in 2023, we are still fighting – as women, for the things that women fought for 50 years ago,” Lieberman said. “It almost brings me to tears thinking about what is happening in our country.”
Lieberman said it takes handwork and determination to break the glass ceiling. It will be hard for women, and it was “this year on March 14 equal parity happened between women and men within our country. The sad thing is it’s a day later than last year.”
In 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in order to bolster worker protections against pay discrimination. Lieberman said nothing has changed since the Act had been signed.
“There hasn’t been anything, and we’ve been talking about this forever,” Lieberman said.
Local governments have labor unions and the Montgomery County commissioners work to ensure there is no difference in what men and women make.
“I’d like to say things (nationally) are going to get better, but I don’t see it. When we have a supreme court that pushes things to the state and then all our states are whackadoodle,” Lieberman said.
She advised she had spent the last two days lobbying their state representatives, and there is a lot of work to be done.
“The senators now are going to have to be the ones to stick up for us (women),” Lieberman said. “Whether they will or they won’t, I don’t know.”
To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].