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What the Hollywood Pay Gap Means for the Rest of Us


We know that the gender pay gap is a real problem. Across industries, ages, and cities, women consistently make less money than their male co-workers. And if you thought this wouldn’t apply to A-list actresses raking in the millions, you’d be wrong. While your sympathy for the rich and famous might be limited, here are just a few reasons why the Hollywood pay gap should matter to us.


(Photo Credit: Shinya Suzuki/Flickr)

Bringing Attention to the Issue

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Regardless of whether you perceive it to be a good or terrible thing, we live in a celebrity-fixated culture. Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Lawrence, and Sandra Bullock are women who get noticed when they speak up about why the gender pay gap is unacceptable.

The media reports their comments and readers start having discussions about the problem. It’s important for lots of people to become informed about such a widespread issue before it can be properly addressed. Most reporting on the Hollywood pay gap has referenced the wider gender disparity across all sectors, educating people who might not otherwise have paid any interest.

Confirmation of a Societal Problem

Yes, many of the actors talking about how they are being paid unfairly make millions of dollars – but that’s hardly the point. No matter what your income level, it’s only fair that you not be discriminated against for your gender. Showing that this is a huge problem, even within the extremes of Hollywood, legitimizes concerns and then we can begin to take effective action. 

We Have Power as Consumers

Voting with your dollars can apply to entertainment choices in the same way as with stores and fast food restaurants. When the Sony hack revealed that Jennifer Lawrence was being paid significantly less than her male co-stars, it gave many of us pause. If, collectively, we can’t expect equal treatment for female stars on the red carpet, why would it be any different in our office cubicles and boardrooms?

It’s Not Something to Dismiss

The general consensus has been that the pay gap in Hollywood is a problem that needs to be fixed. However, that hasn’t stopped a number of people – mostly men, it should be noted – from trivializing the issue. Jeremy Renner, for one, said, “When it comes to that sort of stuff I let other people deal with that…I do what I’m good at, that’s what I focus on.”

It’s a little disappointing to see Renner, Lawrence’s co-worker, skirt the question. (He did clarify later on social media that he has always supported equal pay.) That’s not to say it’s any one man’s responsibility to take on the pay gap. It is, nonetheless, something we could all stand to be more informed on, and critical of.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think the Hollywood pay gap is relevant to us outside of the entertainment industry? Let us know in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter.

Kirsty Wareing
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