Column #1: The Gender Wage Gap; Discrimination in Hollywood

From Jennifer Lawrence to Viola Davis, a lot of women have spoken up in Hollywood about the gender wage gap. In the United States, women in general make less than men, that is a fact across all sorts of industries. However, in Hollywood the influence of actresses are widely more present because we like to keep up with the activities of our favourite movie and TV stars. If you are a female manager at an insurance company, your influence is basically none. That is why a couple of people in the Hollywood business have spoken openly about the wage-gap to address this unfair and old-fashioned problem.


The real fuzz began with the open letter Jennifer Lawrence wrote back in October, in which she explained how she didn’t really negotiate about her salary because she didn’t want to come off like a spoiled brat who wanted more money. The letter was a response to leaked information about the salaries of the actors and actresses who were in the film “American Hustle”, which was published a while before the letter from Lawrence. What was really shocking was that Jennifer and Amy Adams got 2 percent less of the movie’ earnings than their male co-stars Jeremy Renner and Christian Bale. After that revelation, many actresses talked about their experience in the money area, like Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow and Amanda Seyfried. All widely famous and Meryl is even a three time Oscar winner.

I worked on a paper about this subject for school, in which I looked at discrimination between genders in the TV world. In my research I looked at the Forbes lists about the most paid actors and actresses on screen. I concluded that the average of the list of the male actors was 9.5 million dollars and the average of the female was 3 million dollars. That is 6.5 million dollars less! When I looked at age, men make the most money in the film industry when they are 50 while women make more when they become 36.

But if you really look at the television shows and movies, how many leading women do you see? Not that many I can tell you. The other side of the problem is that women are underrepresented on the big and small screen, which is weird because there are just as much (or more) women on this earth as men. According to a report made in 2014 only 21 percent of the top 100 films had a women as a(co-) leading character. Not only in front of the camera there aren’t that much women, but also behind the camera. A research from San Diego state states that in 2014-2015 only 27 percent of directors, writers, producers and editors of TV programmes and Netflix shows are female. That percentage needs to grow because the same report concludes that with at least one female producer, the percentage of women with leading roles goes up with 6 percent.

I asked myself after I looked at these numbers, who controls this? Well, the directors of the television networks of course. I looked up the members of the board from several networks like CBS, Walt Disney, Fox and Time Warner and counted how many women there were. My research led to the fact that 9 of the 54 members are female. That is 17 percent. So the female gender doesn’t have that much influence on what we see, because there are so many men. I don’t say men aren’t per se that feministic, but if they were, we would see that in the numbers of salaries and how much women we’d see.
The women we do see aren’t even that realistic. We see Barbie like figures with long hair and a tiny waist, so even in the way we look we are misrepresented. Which can lead to eating disorders and confidence issues by young girls who see these unrealistic women.
Luckily, this problem we call discrimination is not gone unnoticed. Emma Watson has become an UN ambassador and has started a campaign which is called #HeforShe (video down below). In that campaign she asks men all around the world to support women in this inequality issue. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has asked for a research on gender in the media industry, which the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has started last November.
I hope I informed you on this sensitive problem and I am very happy Hollywood and the media recognizes this is a problem. Please tell me what your thoughts are on this matter, I love to hear your point of view.



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