Women sue Lawrence Livermore over equal opportunities
Jan 8, 1999
Six women scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US are suing the regents of the University of California - which runs the laboratory - for sexual discrimination. The women say that they earn between $1000 and $2000 per month less than their male colleagues and, according to their class action lawsuit, the laboratory could owe them up to $250 000 in back pay. As Livermore employs more than 3000 women, the final bill could be as high as $500 m.
One of the women, Mary Singleton, has been complaining about the inequality for 20 years and says that in 1986 the lab's management board admitted that female staff were discriminated against. However the board took no action. Singleton, who retired last year, used to manage Livermore's plutonium facility. "The regents and management at the lab have known about this problem for a very long time and have simply refused to take appropriate action, " she said.
Another of the women, Maura Spragge, was worried about the message being sent to would-be women scientists. "When we entered this field, we thought we were breaking something open, " she said. "But I wouldn't encourage a young woman to go into it with conditions as they are now."