LiveCareer Blog

Women’s Equality Day: The Gender Pay Gap on the Big Screen

The gender wage gap affects women and men in every industry, but when it happens in Hollywood, people take notice.


A gender-based wage gap undermines productivity and successful employer-employee relationships in every industry. As a society, we know a wage gap exists, but this issue rarely gets spotlight coverage. On average, women are paid approximately 72 percent of the salary men receive for identical or similar jobs. Unfortunately, a problem this widespread is difficult to address, especially in a workplace culture that prevents employees from discussing salary issues among themselves.

Gender Wage Gap Leaked

The gender wage gap reached national visibility after Sony Pictures was hacked and several confidential emails were released. A chain of emails was made public, outlining in detail the intentional huge difference in pay between female and male roles in the film American Hustle. In a recent op-ed, Jennifer Lawrence described her reaction when she discovered the deep impact of the Hollywood wage gap on her own compensation:

“I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled.’ At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled,'” she continues. “This is an element of my personality that I’ve been working on for years, and based on the statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue.”

Lawrence recognized her reluctance to negotiate for a higher wage, and realized that most women probably feel the same way. Like Lawrence, many women refrain from pushing too hard in salary negotiations. Even worse, when companies keep salaries for individual roles private, it’s difficult to negotiate beyond previous salary levels. The fact that this disparity took the national stage in a way that many people could relate to is a boon to closing the gender wage gap.

Big Screen, Bigger Issues

This Hollywood story broadened our horizons even further by demonstrating that this is not a women’s issue. The gender wage gap is an issue that affects both men and women. Gender pay equity contributes to workplace productivity and company stability. So, when Bradley Cooper famously stepped up and added his professional leverage to the discussion on Lawrence’s behalf, he set an example not only for men in Hollywood, but for every industry.

In a way, the exposure of the Hollywood gender wage gap can better things for the rest of us normal people. National attention to the issue can only help stimulate change.

In the meantime, both women and men can benefit from smart negotiation strategies. Knowing how to research the market value of a position, and how to handle discussions with future employers about salary history is one of many tactics you’ll find on LiveCareer. If you are preparing for interviews, check out our suite of salary negotiation tools today! And if you’re in the early stages of your job search, take a look at out free resume samples and cover letter examples; they’ll help you create your own winning job application.