Studies show that the gender wage gap in Hollywood is even more glaring than other industries. As this article notes, this inequality extends beyond the acting elite to include women's representation in directing and studio positions. Complicating this seemingly direct sexism, gender wage inequality often manifests through indirect means such as the lack of paid maternity leave, giving higher paying clients to men, or even penalizing women and not men for trying to negotiate their contracts. It is important to realize, however, that wage inequality also occurs for reasons other than an employee's sex.
Patricia Arquette used her Oscars acceptance speech as an opportunity to raise awareness about the pay inequality for men and women. Her later comments problematically distanced 'gay people and all the people of color' from women's fight for equal pay, thereby promoting a type of feminism that only includes the privileged elite and ignores intersectionality.
Raising awareness is the first step to close the wage gap, but Hollywood and other industries need to set clear guidelines that dictate pay and promotion opportunities. Transparency, as Maria Konnikova has argued, will help ensure that these rules do not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, or sexual orientation. Most importantly, activists need to recognize the diversity of people and contributions within their own cause, instead of privileging an elite group. In terms of solving the wage group, an awareness of the many layers of oppression will lead to more effective solutions.
And this Hollywood gender wage gap isn’t just a first-world problem for the mostly white women who get skillions of dollars thrown at them all day long and tote around free goody bags worth $168,000. As Mollie Hemingway catalogs at the Federalist, women lag absurdly far behind men in basically every Tinseltown gig. The most shocking stat: Since 1998, women’s representation in behind-the-scenes roles other than directing has gone up just 1 percent. And don’t get your hopes up about directing, either. The data Hemingway cites, from the Women’s Media Center, shows that women directed the same percent of the 250 top-grossing films in 2012 (9 percent) as they did in 1998. And we haven’t even talked about the fact that most of the roles women get in movies are lifeless, boring, and terrible.