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More than 24 hours after Jennifer Lawrence sounded off about her reaction to being paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle, the Oscar-winning actress’ essay was still a hot topic of discussion on the broadcast morning shows, with CBS This Morning guest Oprah Winfrey and Today‘s fourth-hour co-host Kathie Lee Gifford recalling their own experiences not being seen as equal to their male counterparts.
On CBS This Morning, Winfrey said that when she read Lawrence’s essay, “I said, ‘Wow, this sounds like 1985.’ ”
In fact, as she recalled on the CBS morning show, with some help from pal and show co-host Gayle King, when The Oprah Winfrey Show was first getting syndicated, she told management that her producers, four of whom were women, needed raises.
“The management at the time said, ‘Why do they need raises? Why do a bunch of girls need raises?’ They’re not married; they don’t have children; they don’t own their own houses. This is 1985 in Chicago,” Winfrey explained. She later threatened to strike if her staff wasn’t paid more, ultimately giving them $10,000 in cash, which she put in a roll of toilet paper.
She also remembered having a similar conversation in 1980 with her boss when she was co-hosting People Are Talking in Baltimore, and her male co-host was “making far more money than I did and we did the same job.”
Winfrey recalled: “My boss said at the time, ‘Do you have children?’ “
Despite pointing out the similarity between the pay disparity in the ‘80s and now, Winfrey was optimistic about the discussion reaching a point in which change could happen.
“I think the conversation has hit a critical moment,” she said.
Later on NBC’s Today, fourth-hour co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb discussed Lawrence’s essay, with Gifford explaining that she learned from her father to know what she’s worth and she took that attitude into a negotiation about the title of her former show with Regis Philbin.
Gifford said her father used to tell her, “You have to know your place in the marketplace.”
She recalled how when her show with Regis Philbin was being syndicated, there was a plan to change the name from The Morning Show, which might not be applicable if the show was on in the afternoon, to The Regis Philbin Show. One of the men in charge of that decision asked Gifford, “Do you have a problem with that?”
Pointing out that he was a “good guy,” Gifford said she told him, “I have a problem with the fact that you don’t have a problem with it, because we are a team, and I think both of our names should be in the title.”
She went on to tell Kotb that she “absolutely” would have walked away if the title wasn’t changed but knew that her friendship with Philbin was so strong that he would back her up.
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