Hollywood Hustles Pay According To Gender

Be an ally in addressing the pay gap.

By Cliff Leek. Jennifer Lawrence’s captivating performance as stay-at-home mom Rosalyn in the Academy Award-winning 2013 movie “American Hustle” revealed something that will surprise few: that women’s labor is undervalued at home and at work. In 2014 a hack and subsequent email leak from Sony revealed that the studio routinely payed female movie stars and staff—including the female stars of “American Hustle”—less than their male counterparts.

The stars who experienced this pay gap firsthand have reignited the controversy over the last couple of weeks. Many of the film’s stars, including Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner, have made illuminating statements about Hollywood’s gender pay gap.

The latest conversation began when Academy Award-winning actor Jennifer Lawrence wrote a scathing essay calling out the role that gender plays in pay negotiations and outcomes for women in Hollywood. It’s well documented that gender inequities in pay and wages exist, but it’s still striking to hear about it directly from a high-profile person at the top of her field.

The fact that women—even rich, famous ones who seem to be on top of the world—are paid less than their male peers shouldn’t surprise us. But what came next was a moment that allies, i.e., men who believe that it’s crucial to fight for gender equality, can learn from.

The two men who benefitted directly from the gender pay gap that outraged Lawrence were her “American Hustle” costars, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner—and they responded to her criticism in dramatically different ways.

Bradley Cooper announced that going forward he intends to be transparent about his pay to ensure a fairer negotiation process for his female coworkers. As he told Reuters, “I don't know where it's changing otherwise but that's something that I could do." He recognized the problem, recognized that he could be part of the solution, and vowed to take a step in the right direction. (It’s important to note that pay transparency has been found to be effective in closing pay gaps. Check out this podcast by Planet Money for an example.)

Jeremy Renner, on the other hand, responded to questions about whether he would make an effort to address the pay gap by saying, “That’s not my job.” He claimed to support equal pay for equal work in theory but didn’t see himself as part of the solution or an agent of change.

I don’t want to be too hard on Jeremy Renner, but where would we be now—and where will be 10, 20, or 30 years from now—on the issue of gender equality at work if we all decide it isn’t our job to insist on equality? And what could we accomplish if instead we followed Cooper’s example, came up with at least one small thing we could do—and did it?

Check out our MARC Call to Action for ideas about how you can make a difference. And the next time a woman colleague calls attention to unfair treatment at work, don’t shrug your shoulders and mutter that it’s not your job to fix it—find a way to support her. She’ll appreciate it and you’ll both be better off. 
d8a11676c36532306c60e9bc9abf8387-huge-10625156_10202232035744827_7583229007405345016_n.jpgCliff Leek is the MARC (Men Advocating Real Change) Research Fellow and Community Manager. He is also a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at Stony Brook University (SUNY). He has worked as Prevention Specialist for the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force and as a consultant for a variety of gender-focused non-profits. Cliff is currently writing his dissertation on the growth patterns and effectiveness of organizations seeking to engage men and boys in gender justice work around the world.  He is also a founding editor of Masculinities101.com, a blog that connects activist and scholarly work on men and masculinities.
Posted by MARC Catalyst on Nov 4, 2015 12:01 PM America/New_York

Blog Post Comments

Log in to post a comment.


What gender equality topic do you most want to learn more about in 2019? Anything we left out? Let us know.

Business case
Mentoring and sponsorship
Paternity leave and fatherhood
Masculinity and gender
Actions to take