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The gender pay gap is the big fat elephant in the current proverbial room. It’s present, it’s huge and people just want it to go away.
Acknowledged or not, gender pay gaps are prevalent throughout several industries in the country. Recently, the entertainment industry is gaining the most attention about the issue – and it’s working.
Thanks to hacked emails from Sony last year, it’s become public knowledge that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were paid far less for their roles in “American Hustle” than their male co-stars. In the emails, their payouts were boiled down into a point system – percentages of back-end profits from the film.
According to an article from The Washington Post about the debacle in December 2014, “The male actors — Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner and Bradley Cooper — were each getting 9 points. Amy Adams, the lead actress, was getting just 7 points. (It should be noted that Amy Adams, at this point in her career, had been nominated for four Academy Awards — more than Renner and Cooper combined. Bale had one Oscar win at the time.)”
While it’s difficult to read about stars complaining about not earning more millions than they already have, it’s become an effective way to create a conversation about something reaching women outside Hollywood’s bounds as well.
For one, several articles have been written about Lawrence and Adams being short-changed. From Forbes to The Guardian, the case has been examined and discussed – down to the minute details and percentages. The Washington Post states in the same article, the difference between the 7 and 9 points the actors are ranked with is about 23 percent.
Of course, women who aren’t actresses don’t have agents by their side – negotiating price for work during interviews. It’s entirely up to the individual in the interview to discuss pay and salary. Likewise, there are no fans or media outlets advocating higher pay for Jane Doe when gaps are discovered like Lawrence’s. But that is precisely the reason it should be discussed. Thanks to outlets in which it is acknowledged, conversations are being had about the flagrant cut in salary of people performing the same tasks.
In an article published by Guardian U.S. in August 2014, women were interviewed from an array of backgrounds and industries. A short confession in the article from a woman in San Francisco states, “My husband and I graduated together and got the same job at two different companies. I was hired a few weeks before he was. In his final interview, he mentioned I was being paid $33,000, so his company bumped my husband’s pay up to $36,000 so he would be earning more than I was.”
No, Hollywood demographics, jobs and business deals are not representative of a great deal of the U.S. population. But, issues brought about through the entertainment industry possess a clout the issue otherwise never had. Hollywood is creating a space for continued conversation about pay gap, so let’s join.