In a candid interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Pompeo discussed her journey towards becoming a star of one of America’s most popular television programs. In 2002 she had gotten a role in the film "Moonlight Mile," and at the time, she had thought it would be the first step to a successful career as a movie star. When the idea for “Grey’s Anatomy” was first brought up to her two years later, she wasn’t happy. “I was like, ‘I’m not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years. Are you out of your f**kin’ mind? I’m an actress.”

The sentiment was apparently short-lived, as she accepted the position and, 14 years later, she still plays one of the main characters on the show.

Pompeo has played Meredith Grey for all 14 seasons, yet from the beginning, co-star Patrick Dempsey earned more than her. When she requested a raise, she was refused. “I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is "Grey’s Anatomy" and I’m Meredith Grey.”

Pompeo is not the only woman to face this issue

The pay gap has been widely debated, with those on the left typically agreeing that it’s a serious issue, while conservatives brand it a “feminist myth.” However, most economists typically agree that the average American women earns 80 cents to every man’s dollar, with the gap increasing if the women is not white or straight. While the reasons for this vary, there is no question that the problem is rampant in the television industry.

Yvette Nicole Brown, an actress of color who plays Dina on ABC’s “The Mayor,” tweeted that a white male guest star’s salary was comparable to hers, despite her role as a series regular. Similarly, “Shameless” star Emmy Rossum, who has played Fiona Gallagher since 2011, had to fight for a salary equal to that of her co-worker William H.

Macy, who plays Frank Gallagher on the show. Macy was one of her biggest supporters, and it was eventually confirmed that they would receive Equal Pay going forward; however, Rossum had to threaten to leave the show before season 8 began for them to comply.

Not all stars had a happy ending

Not every story is one of success, however.

“Hawaii Five-0” stars Daniel Day Kim and Grace Park quit after the show’s 7th season when they discovered they would not be getting an equal salary to that of their co-workers Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin. Likewise, Catt Sadler of E! News also quit after finding out her male co-host was receiving double her salary.

Pompeo was successful in getting the raise she had requested, and will now be earning more than $20 million a year, making her TV’s highest-paid woman. But while this is absolutely a step in the right direction, it is clear that the wage gap is an issue that will not be solved on its own. Yet with every instance that someone stands up against unfair treatment, we grow one step closer to a more equal world.