“My career has been a domino effect of people who said, ‘I would like this person to fill this role,’ ” the Ocean’s 8 star, 53, told USA Today. “And not just in the industry, but people in my life. My mother raised me like, ‘You don’t need to get married, you forge your own path. You make your own money, and be your own person.’ And I literally went out into the world thinking there was no disparity, that everyone was equal, and I can do whatever a man can do.”
Later in her career, Bullock said she had a “wake-up moment, where I was like, ‘What is this feeling? Why do I feel so (expletive)?’ ” she added. “‘Oh my God, I’m being treated this way because I have a vagina.’ ”
The actress said the realization was especially difficult due to her upbringing. “It was hard for me, because I walked with blinders on through life and got to where I (felt) like I was less than because I was a woman,” she explained.
“And that was a hard pill to swallow. I had a lot of sadness from that. I was like, ‘Wow, maybe I need to step out of here. Maybe I need to do something else for a living.’ And that was in the middle of when I was getting work ?” I didn’t want to be a part of that world where there was that experience.”
Cate Blanchett, who stars alongside Bullock in Ocean’s 8, told the outlet that sexism also nearly drove her out of the entertainment industry.
“I don’t think about my gender until those opportunities are not available to me or denied to me because of my gender,” she told USA Today.
“We do live in a capitalist society, so it’s like your worth is valued in monetary terms,” she added. “You know what the poster’s going to look like, and you’re not being paid the same as the person you’ve got equal billing and screen time with, and you think, ‘Actually, that’s not right.’ ”
According to a recent survey by USA Today, 94% of women in the industry say they have experienced sexual harassment or assault.
Ocean’s 8 opens Friday.
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.