Sexism and the Wage Gap in Hollywood

Considering the 2017 Academy Awards occurred on Sunday evening, I felt as though it would be beneficial to explore the severity of the wage gap and the prevalence of sexism in Hollywood. I composed a former post describing the extent to which the wage gap impacts female athletes in professional sports and wanted to pursue this exploration by examining the wage gap in Hollywood.

According to an article on, Jennifer Lawrence is the world’s highest-paid actress. She earned $52 million in 2015, however Robert Downey Jr., the world’s highest-paid actor, earned $80 million in a twelve month duration.

I personally feel as though a $28 million deficit serves as an adequate example of the severity of the wage gap between actors and actresses in Hollywood.

Lawrence has spoken about the implications of the sexist payment system in Hollywood and has been supported by other highly recognized actresses, some examples being Meryl Streep, Scarlett Johansson, Selma Hayek and Gwyneth Paltrow. Amanda Seyfried, an additional actress who has advocated against the prevalence of sexism in Hollywood, has stated that she, in some circumstances, has earned a mere 10% of what her male co-stars earned for the same production.


In addition to the issue of the wage gap itself, the underrepresentation of women in Hollywood is a problem that requires recognition. Actress Reese Witherspoon addressed this issue in a public statement and expressed her discontent with female underrepresentation in media: “Women make up 50% of the population, and we should be playing 50% of the roles on the screen.”

A report by the Annenberg School at USC’s Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative depicted rather unsettling information regarding the occurrence of sexism in Hollywood. The report explained that a mere 28.1% of character’s in 2014’s most acknowledged films were women with only 21 of said films featuring a female lead or co-star.

Women as a minority is not an issue specific to acting – according to, females make up 1.9% of film directors, 11.2% of film writers and 18.9% of female producers.


This issue is even more consequential for minority women and women of colour. According to an article on, black women earn 64 cents for every dollar a white male makes. The 2016 Forbes report of the globe’s top ten paid actresses was absent of any black women and contained only two women of colour who were referenced because of their international work. Tracee Ellis Ross, a black female comedy actress, earns approximately $80,000 per episode of the show Black-Ish. Stars of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco each earn approximately $1 million per episode.

Do we see the the injustice of this situation?

The wage gap and sexism are issues that are prevalent in a majority of financial contexts. I question how long it will take for this issue to be resolved, and it is my hope that female celebrities will continue to advocate against both discriminatory practices.



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