On Nov. 8, 2023, the Women’s Alliance Network at Rowan University hosted Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt in the Chamberlain Student Center’s Eynon Ballroom. She gave an empowering speech about her path towards taking legislative action for many progressive policies, including New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, earned sick leave, addressing sexual misconduct in schools, and access to mental health services. This event was completely free of charge through registration on Rowan University’s website.
Lampitt has served in New Jersey’s No. 6 legislative district since 2006. She joined the University of Pennsylvania in 1981, and she spoke about the struggles she endured throughout the beginning of her career, including how they inspired her to become a voice for other women.
A case that Lampitt specifically spoke about is Lilly Ledbetter, and how her situation urged her to make a change. She said that Ledbetter worked with a man who had the exact same job, education, and experience as her, but was making $20,000 more a year.
Lampitt said that as a woman, you need to know the value of your labor and negotiate when what’s being offered to you isn’t enough.
“The bottom line is that each and every one of you needs to know your worth,” Lampitt said. “And certainly with the internet today, and the ability to be able to do research on what your worth could be, that’s something that you need to endeavor.”
Also noticing problems within the medical industry, Lampitt said she began to take action toward progressive policies in health.
“There are a significant amount of businesses in the state of New Jersey that do not give a sick day. Not one. So what do you do?” Lampitt asked.
Workers believed that they were jeopardizing their jobs by not going to work, so they continued to go even when they were sick. Lampitt said that overcoming this roadblock was difficult, but she was able to work towards a policy that made it mandatory for all employers with over 20 employees to give at least five paid sick days per year.
Lampitt also worked to ensure that Telehealth employees received the same amount of pay as doctors who received in-person clients. Telehealth is when healthcare service is provided virtually–whether that be through phone calls or emails. When she noticed the amount of time her sister, a pediatrician, spent answering phone calls and emails through telehealth during COVID-19, she knew this was an issue that needed to be addressed.
Working in politics, Lampitt says that she gives up a lot of herself.
“I’ve given up a lot of things that maybe I would’ve enjoyed doing,” Lampitt said. “I’ve given up a lot but when you say that you’ve done the transfer credit bill, or that you’ve done equal pay, there’s rewards on the other side for me.”
Lampitt ends her discussion by saying that although she may not always be directly recognized for enacting these policies, knowing that she is tackling these important issues–and that people are benefiting from them–makes everything worthwhile for her.
“It’s motivational and inspiring to me to see a woman coming up in a male-dominated area and see that most of the work that she’s done has been very impactful in our state and beyond,” said Meadow Carstarphen, a sophomore at Rowan University.
This event provided a look into the policies that assemblywoman Lampitt has enacted to support New Jersey citizens, as well as the turbulence and roadblocks she’s faced along the way. Overall, it provided insight and inspiration to Rowan students and other spectators on the troubles that one must overcome to enact change in their communities.
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