Gloria Steinem – Notable Women in History Series

Gloria Steinem is widely recognized as one of the great feminists of our time. Working alongside other prominent feminists, such as Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan, she is credited as an acclaimed trailblazer for women’s rights, working both as an activist and a journalist, for the benefit of the cause.

Gloria Steinem was born on March 25, 1934 to parents, Leo and Ruth Steinem. Her parents moved her around so much in her youth, that she didn’t start regularly attending school until age 11. Clearly this inconsistency failed to hinder her education, as she graduated magna cum laude from Smith College in 1956. From there she earned the Chester Bowles Fellowship, which sent her to study and research in India. This experience developed in her an interest in grassroots organization, which later manifested itself in her work supporting the Equal Rights Amendment.

Photo Courtesy: Elle

Steinem’s professional career began in New York City, where she worked as a freelance journalist for various publications. Her breakout piece was published in Show magazine and featured her undercover experience working as a Bunny: a waitress at the Playboy Club. The expose revealed that, contrary to popular belief, the seemingly glamorous bunnies were actually overworked and underpaid. Though this piece should have been commended for its revelation of the Club’s poor treatment of its wait staff, and she for her part in revealing it, Steinem had trouble finding work after its publication.

After struggling for a number of years, Steinem finally landed a job in 1968 as founding editor at New York magazine. She regularly reported on political campaigns and progressive social issues, which led her to develop a keen interest in the women’s movement. She attended rallies, sit-ins and protests, experiences which developed Steinem’s feminist philosophy.

Steinem co-founded Ms. Magazine, whose first piece was an insert in New York magazine in 1971, but became an independent, regular circulation in 1972. That same year, along with fellow feminists Abzug and Friedan, the National Women’s Political Caucus was founded, which supported the changes cited in the Equal Rights Amendment, including reproductive freedom and wage disparity between the sexes.

Steinem continues to write and publish to this day. Her most recent publication, titled My Life on the Road was released in October 2015, and is an account of her travels from youth, to anti-Vietnam rallies, and more. Steinem is a singular feminist who believes there’s always more to do in the fight for equality and continues to actively support the cause to this day.