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CHICAGO (CBS) – She led the feminist fight for equality and at 77 she’s still fighting for humanitarian causes worldwide.
Gloria Steinem met with students at Columbia College on Tuesday, to share the story of America’s road to gender equality. As CBS 2′s Vince Gerasole reports, Steinem said it’s a road we’re still traveling.
Think about it; women still don’t earn as much as men for the same work.
Steinem was modest when she talked about the battles she’s fought; advances current generations sometimes take for granted.
“I think we all want this in our lives. We want to have an impact on the world in a positive way,” Steinem said.
The feminist icon became the outspoken leader of the women’s liberation movement in the late 1960s and the 1970s.
But, speak to young women on a college campus these days, and not everyone might realize how Steinem touched their lives.
“I have heard the name, but I don’t really know much else,” Columbia student Sarah Gentile said.
“I have known who Gloria Steinem is since I was 12,” Columbia student Lynne Stanko said. “Gloria Steinem was one of the leaders of a second wave of feminism in the 70s”
As a journalist, Steinem famously worked undercover as a Playboy Bunny, revealing sexism in the workplace.
She co-founded Ms. Magazine, bringing attention to issues like domestic abuse and pay inequality.
As a political activist, she fought a hard, yet losing battle to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
Jane Saks, Founding Executive Director of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College, said, “She understands that it’s about systemic change. It’s not about getting one person in a position of power, but it’s about creating systems that create equity for everybody.”
You might say auctioneer Leslie Hindman benefited from that systemic change.
The auction house she started in 1982 now employs more than 70 people at five nationwide locations.
“I always thought that I would get married and not work,” she said. “So, for me, just the whole idea of having a big career was something that was controversial in a way.”
And though Hindman’s success is the result of own hard work, she’s knows many women like her benefited from Steinem’s efforts.
She said the lesson Steinem provided was “more a feeling that you could do anything with your life, even if you’re a woman.”
Take Your Daughter to Work Day and the growing numbers of women in professions like medicine and business can both be traced to the feminist movement Steinem led. But with women earning about 77 cents to the dollar compared to men for the same work, Steinem said there’s more work to do.