Earlier this year, Patricia Arquette used the Oscar stage to shine a spotlight on pay inequality in Hollywood. It’s been several months since then, but Arquette has continued to use her celebrity to bring attention to this issue. For actors in Hollywood, as with most occupations, women are paid less than men, and Arquette says that fixing this issue will lead to a significant increase the number of successful women in Hollywood.
In a recent interview with Fortune, Arquette focuses on the fact that pay inequality is a known issue that needs to be dealt with. She said,
The ACLU’s looking at discrimination in the industry, and that’s good. With the Sony hack we saw the disparity in salary, how very successful women were paid less than men at the same level, and that even less successful men were paid more. There is no way we can’t take that seriously. There are very few successful women in Hollywood, and that needs to change. I can’t complain about my situation, but it’s not common.
According to Arquette, pay inequality is part of "a web" which affects everything, not just the bank account. The math isn’t even difficult to do. Look the highest paid actresses in Hollywood and compare it to their male counterparts and you’ll see how imbalanced the numbers are. It’s difficult to argue that there aren’t nearly enough successful women in the film industry. While we could all certainly make a significant list, it’s not nearly as long as the list of similarly successful men. We know that women make up an insultingly small percentage of on-screen roles. Emily Blunt has called for more female action stars because not enough women are considered for such roles. When you tack on the fact that those women get paid less, even when they do get the blockbuster film roles, it’s no wonder there are fewer successful women.
As Arquette alludes, the Sony hack from the end of last year brought a lot of attention to the pay gap problem. One of the most famous examples is Charlize Theron discovering that she was being offered substantially less than her male co-stars for the sequel to Snow White & The Huntsman. Considering the fact that Theron had one of the biggest roles of the stars returning for the sequel, this news was more than little off base. Theron was able to use the information to get a substantial bump in pay, and it’s difficult to argue that it wasn’t deserved.
Hopefully, the more sunlight is shone on this issue, the more that can be done to resolve it. Women make up half the population and there’s no valid argument why they should be paid less for the same work in any profession. There are some great actresses out there and they should be compensated the same as their male counterparts.