Hollywood’s Alarming Gender Wage Gap Finding: Men are earning $1 million more than Women Per Film

Hollywood’s Alarming Gender Wage Gap Finding: Men are earning $1 million more than Women Per Film


Gender pay disparity or gender wage gap in different industries especially in the world of sports and Hollywood has become a subject of many conversations across social media platforms. And this was highly reflective of how the patriarchal society views women in comparison to men – often seen as inferior and less important and stereotyped as a housewife. 

This has been a long-standing battle of women and no matter how good you are, you will always be seen below men. There has always been discrimination. But with many women in power and with influence now speaking out to the unfair treatment between genders, there’s hope that we can change the system. But to pivot real change, the role of men in acknowledging their privilege and working alongside their female counterparts in ensuring equal pay is also very important. 

What is the gender wage gap?

Basically, this refers to the difference in earnings between male and female. There have been a lot of ways that experts approached the calculation and the result all pointed to a single conclusion: Women earn less than men, and sadly, the gap is even wider for women of color. 

In a 2018 analysis of the Census Bureau data, women (regardless of race) earned an average of 82 cents for every dollar a man earned. This number is based on the ratio of median annual earnings for women who worked full time, year-round to their male counterparts, according to the Center for American Progress. That means there is a general gender wage gap of 18 cents. But for Hispanic or Latino women, the gender wage gap is an astounding 54 cents. 

Aside from gender and race, there is even more compounding negative effects for immigrant women and transgender women. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What causes this gap?

There are a number of factors that play a role in the wage gap that we need to know. Note that this list only names a few major considerations but the factors are not limited to this. 

Industry or Job

There is occupational segregation that is very apparent these days. Women are funneled into stereotypes of the so-called women jobs like health aides and child care workers who have historically a predominant women workforce. On the other hand, men’s jobs include trade, building and construction. And the unfortunate part is that stereotype women jobs usually offer lower pay and fewer benefits than men’s. And this is true across industries from laborers to senior leaders. 


The gender-based pay discrimination was ruled illegal since 1963 yet the practice is still so frequent and widespread up to this day. Even with large movements of Feminism, many remain uneducated with this issue. Worse, most don’t see the problem with this. 

Years of Experience and Hours Worked

Women have always been burdened with their traditional role of caregiving and other unpaid obligations which lead to having less work experience. And for the same reason, women also tend to work fewer hours and are more common in the part-time work scene than full-time. 

Hollywood is an even more interesting case study as noted by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) labor economist John Heywood said in a news report published on the UWM website. Citing the traditional role of women, this does not really apply to the setup of films wherein both male and female leads shoot in a remote location and miss the same number of days. 

With work even more comparable, you’d expect they would earn the same. But the astounding answer is no. In fact, women still earn considerably less than their male counterparts. 

Gender Wage Gap in Hollywood

UWM labor economist John Heywood and his coauthors published a study last year that revealed an alarming situation (albeit not unfamiliar). In their paper, it said that the raw wage gap between actors and actresses in Hollywood at a “superstar” level is over $2.4 million. 

As a woman, reading something like that really made my jaw drop. It was like all the movies I’ve watched flashed before my eyes. And I couldn’t fathom the idea that for films top-billed by women, they still earned way less than their male counterparts. And it wasn’t just thousands of dollars. 

But the worst part is that when they stripped everything off (factors like notable achievements, popularity, length of experience, etc.), there is still a $1 million wage gap between men and women. Although there is still considerable debate on this part, it still does not erase the fact that there is discrimination against women in the film industry. 

5 Most Alarming Examples of Gender Wage Gap in Hollywood

Watch out, your favorite movie might be listed here. 

Something’s Gotta Give, 2003

Gender Wage Gap

Despite Diane Keaton having a bigger role compared to co-star Jack Nicholson in the 2003 romance comedy film, she revealed that she didn’t receive any back-end pay for the film. A back-end pay is a percentage of the movie’s profits that normally actors in the film should receive. Jack Nicholson did. 

No Strings Attached, 2011

Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher both played the lead roles in the film and shared equal screen time. But in a 2017 interview with Marie Claire, Portman revealed that she received way less than the salary of Ashton Kutcher. That is, Ashton reportedly made three times more than Portman. 

American Hustle, 2013

This was one of the most controversial pay gaps that trended in social media platforms. An email hack back in 2014 revealed the back-end pay grade for the stars of the film. It was reported that Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner all received 9% of the movie’s profit. But Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence who appeared in the film for the same amount of time were only given 7% each. 

The Martian, 2015

According to The Playlist, Jessica Chastain was paid around $1.75 million for the film while her male co-star Matt Damon reportedly earned an estimated amount of $15 to $25 million. Many noted that this discrepancy did not match their respective screen times.

All The Money in the World, 2017

This film starred Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams and is one of the most common examples of pay disparity. It was reported that Wahlberg received $5 million and even demanded $1.5 million for reshoots. On the other hand, Williams only earned $625,000 and paid less than a thousand dollars for the reshoots. That is despite their equal screen time. 

What is the solution?

According to John Heywood, one suggestion he and his coauthors could make to mitigate the pay gap is to publicize film contracts between studios and actors. Though this is still being studied by economists, it’s a possible way. 

He noted that typically for Hollywood, agents negotiate the contract. That is, often male and female actors share the same agents. Agents are usually bound by the standard Hollywood contract so they are incentivized just as much when they pursue that actresses should receive an equal salary and back-end pay to their male counterparts.

And as mentioned before, men rallying with women to erase this disparity is also very important. For example, Emma Stone’s male co-actors have taken pay cuts just so she could have an equal pay with them. And when men who are in a more powerful position take that stand, they also shift the paradigm. 

Now is not the time to be silent. 


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