The new Question Time host, who has been at the BBC for 30 years, also said that the broadcaster was previously “not a nice place to be”.
Bruce told British Vogue magazine that she asked for a “desultory” pay rise during her early years at the BBC.
She said: “My boss said ‘do you really need it? What does your boyfriend do? You live with him, don’t you? Doesn’t he pay for most things?’”
Bruce recalled that she had replied: “Well, I do the supermarket shopping, so I need to pay for that.”
She added: “How ludicrous is that?”
She did not reveal when the pay rise discussion took place, nor who it was with.
Bruce, 54, also said the BBC had changed over the years.
“If the six o’clock [news] had a story they didn’t want the one o’clock [news] to know about, they wouldn’t put it in the running order,” she told the magazine.
“It was a terrible atmosphere – dog-eat-dog, bitchy, not a nice place to be.”
Bruce joined the broadcaster in 1989 as a researcher on Panorama, and over the next 14 years rose to become the first female newsreader on the BBC’s flagship News At Ten.
She has also presented some of the BBC’s best-loved light entertainment programmes such as Antiques Roadshow and Fake Or Fortune? and has become one of the the corporation’s best-paid stars, earning more than £350,000 a year.
In December, it was revealed she was taking over from David Dimbleby as the host of BBC One current affairs panel show Question Time, and her first episode aired in January.
See the full feature in the May issue of British Vogue, available on digital download and newsstands now.