Opportunity

Gloria Steinem’s Audacious Equal Pay Moment

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Imagine you're a woman who just realized you were being paid less for the same job a man did, and when you pointed this out to the boss, you were compensated — with a nice purse.

Replace "woman" with Gloria Steinem and "nice purse" with "a Gucci," and you have one unbelievable true story.

“It was a long time ago — it was maybe in the '70s," the iconic feminist activist recalled to Fusion.net. "Time magazine asked me to write an essay about the early women's movement. 

“When my agent got the check, he told me that I was getting paid less than men who wrote the same essay," she said. “So, I wrote the editor of Time and complained and he sent me a Gucci purse. I took the purse back to Gucci because I needed the money and tried to get cash for it and I couldn't."

Purses may not be the common placating technique today, but, sadly, neither is an equal paycheck. Today, full-time working women earn 78 percent of what their male counterparts earn, and black and Hispanic women earn even less. The gap ultimately amounts to half a million dollars lost in a woman's lifetime

Those sobering statistics stand despite the fact that it remains a topic Steinem is asked about constantly. But that is also the good news. From actor Jennifer Lawrence's public outcries to the #HeforShe movement, the equal-pay conversation is becoming more than a workplace issue — it's a social issue. And that's exactly how we start turning things around, according to Steinem.

“Gender issues are societal issues," Steinem told Fusion. “Society is wrongly divided into two, which makes no sense. We're all human beings, after all."