The Gender Wage Gap In The Film Industry

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Women over the years have had a very changing role in society. Throughout history we can see how women were not taken into account at first and people thought that they should be nothing else but housewives and do not need to have an appropriate education. Also another belief is that women only served to give birth to their heirs and not to make important decisions, but all this changes with the evolution of thought. As the story progresses, women are gradually having a more important role in society. Gender equality in a few words is defined as that women and men regardless of their different characteristics have an equal value, power, and mental capacity among other things. Equality is something that women have fought for hard over the years and much of it has been achieved, but there are still disciplines or areas where much progress has not been made. Even though women´s role has evolved, we still have one very troubling issue. Known as the Gender Wage Gap. The exact definition of the gender wage gap according to the Cambridge Dictionary is “The difference between the amounts of money paid to women and men, often for doing the same work.” This is a worldwide issue and it affects all of the working sectors, but specially the movie industry. The film industry as we already know is all the companies and studios working collectively to make films. This is one of the largest work sectors in the world and has a massive world reach. So if this is a massive industry, why does the pay gap still exist? Why couldn´t a woman´s performance be worth the same as a man´s?

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This issue comes since the start of the film industry, but it has always been ignored not dealt with. For several years, the film industry has had a serious problem in which women are treated differently only because of their gender. This topic goes much deeper than we really think, because after so many years it has not been solved, only ignored. Nowadays a woman who performs the leading role of a television series or movie is paid at a much lower cost than an actor with a secondary role.

In recent years thanks to modernization and gender equality, women have realized that this is something worth fighting for; women are tired of not getting what they deserve, and not only complain about what they are paid, but also that they are being disrespected by not giving them the recognition their work deserves. Forbes magazine, a well known and specialized magazine in the world business and finances issued an article where Josie Sutcliffe said that this issue may be because, “One factor might be that men are more likely to be promoted to manager, and typically managers earn more money than non-managers”. All women in this industry agree that this situation must change and this starts with each one of them giving each one their contribution in the way they prefer. Several actresses have presented their complaints, but these have not been taken into account. Also several actors also have an opinion on this issue and it is that all actresses and actors should be treated, respected, and paid equally only based on the performance of the person. Which many directors do not do since most still have the idea of past years, that women are worth less than men. There are a lot of examples in this matter, but I will get into that further into the discussion.

The United States of America is one of the countries with a big film industry, in consequence it is one of the countries that has a lot of problems with the gender wage gap. According to The American Association of University Women, an average, full-time working women earn just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. Stereotypes are one of the most influential things in this subject. The biggest stereotype is that women just by their gender alone must earn less. Like I said before, this comes from the beginning of history, when women were always treated as something less than what they really are. A clear example of this is that the best-paid actress of 2017 earned much less than half of the most paid actor. This happens because the roles of women are always minimized, and they take away the importance that it actually has. A lot of men in the industry like to undermine their co-stars by making it look like they did the harder work and that their role is more important. This causes women to be less likely to get large roles in movies or television series.

As an actress and Spanish cinematography teacher says, ‘Sometimes films are made for a very young audience and they are written for very young actors. When I was not yet 40 years old, I played women of 40, and when at 40 they did not give me anymore’. Many people do not care about this, especially women. Many think that since it is not something critical in their lives it is not so important and that they should focus more on other aspects that are more controversial in society, but if we can not change the wage gap in the film industry. If we think that it is something ‘unimportant’ ‘Or’ not controversial ‘, how are we going to change what really affects all women? Women around the world should start to become aware of this issue, because today some may not be affected directly but tomorrow, yes. They have to put themselves in other women´s shoes and start doing something. Many important actresses have given firm arguments to the press about this. One example is the actress Jennifer Lawrence, a recognized actress and winner of an Oscar award, she says ‘I’m disappointed with myself for not asking more knowing that I deserved it just to not seem greedy and that nothing else worries me about money’. This actress found out the difference of salary by means of a hacker who revealed all the salary files of the company. As well as her, there exists many actresses that for fear of looking as something that they are not or for the simple fact of being women do not ask for more than what they are offering them.

On average women earn 21% less than men, in the United States women earn from 76 to 79 cents for every dollar men earn. The book Women and Work in Latin America: Challenges for Labor Policies tells us that ‘Women in Latin America and the Caribbean are progressively achieving higher levels of education than salaried men’. From here comes an important question which is, why do men earn more, if women have an equal or higher educational level? That is a question that many women can answer by giving their opinion, but it is a very difficult fact to change.

Another thing that also affects the cinema is age.There are many women who, as they get older, the roles of the films diminish because they begin to believe that they will no longer be able to handle the load, something that does not happen to men. This makes the wage gap rise by 30%, since women start charging less or stop having papers.

So this makes me curious why if the numbers keep rising and rising women do nothing? Because of the same reason, stereotypes. When a women thinks of asking for a raise or fighting for what she thinks is what her work is worth. They immediately shut the thought down. One of the main reasons for this is because they think their bosses are not going to give it to them. It is proved that men tend to get more raises than women, again just because of their gender. This is another form of discrimination just a more subtle one, because people do not tend to pay attention to it.

So why do this doesn´t take the same importance as racism or any other type of discrimination? The answer is simple, because society today is used to the man being the one that supports women economically. But today there are a lot of women that support themselves without a man´s income. Still this is something that society doesn´t see or just chooses to ignore it. If we think about it this is a pattern. Society is always going to say that a man can do more and better things than a woman. We have to break this because it doesn´t only affect the film industry or the big enterprises one. It affects our whole lives. If you are a woman for sure in any near future you will come across someone that doesn´t think like you and will try to discriminate you by your gender. This people are the ones that are afraid of change or just don´t want to accept it. The sad part is that some of this people are women themselves.

So, how can we start the change if we don’t believe there is something wrong? There are various organizations that have tried to end this gap. But, How will they do it if women do not present a united front? We have to start to take matters into our own hands and stop ignoring what should be heard. It´s sad to say that even with all the effort these organizations have put in.

Despite this and the struggle that women have taken all these years, the wage gap is something that we still lack a lot of time to change. Many people still believe that the wage gap is right and that it should continue to exist. But just as there are places and people who still believe that women are incapable of doing certain things, there are people and places who do not and who consider that they are capable of doing the same thing as men.

Awakening the interest in this type of information is a challenge today; women should give more importance because it is something that affects them all. Many women have suffered because of this but their decision has been not to speak for fear of looking something they are not. The moment of change begins today, and it is done fighting for equality and for what women really deserve. Ending discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes of society is the purpose of many women who want to see society change. We must leave behind the idea that women are weak and incapable, because today’s generations have that impression. Instead, we must leave them with the image that a woman can do the same thing as a man and have the same mental abilities as any other human being.

The wage gap continues and will be a problem in society, until the women decide to change it and stop it. Achieving it will be difficult but not impossible but the most important thing is to never give up and put the best effort to achieve the goal. So I invite you to take action on the matter, in order to change the way of thinking of society and reach absolute equality. A world where everyone is taken as equals and given the same opportunities regardless of their gender. Reflect that we are teaching the new generations. And as Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Those are the most accurate words someone could have said.  

16 December 2021

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