Third-wave feminism focuses on many issues, one of the biggest being the wage gap between men and women. According to AAUW, women in the United States are paid just 80 percent of what a man in the same field makes. The wage gap varies from state to state; the state with the highest percentage is New York with 89 percent, and the least is Wyoming at 64 percent.
The issue of the wage gap has been brought to the forefront following the Women’s March on Washington, but even before that it was a hot topic of conversation between women in Hollywood. Emmy Rossum, the star of Showtime’s “Shameless,” asked the show runners for pay equity between her and the show’s male stars.
In December of last year, before “Shameless” was confirmed to be returning for its eighth season, Rossum asked Warner Bros. to be paid the same amount as William H. Macy, who also stars in the drama. The contract dispute delayed the season eight renewal.
Rossum and Warner Bros. eventually reached an agreement. According to Entertainment Weekly, “Rossum had been offered the same deal as Macy for a possible upcoming eighth season but she was holding out to be paid more, considering that he had been higher paid for so many years.”
The pay gap in Hollywood was discussed at the Women’s March on Washington. Scarlett Johansson’s speech touched on pay equity issues in the acting industry. “I ask you to support all women and our fight for equality in all things,” said Johansson.
According to the 2014 study “Age, Gender, and Compensation: A Study of Hollywood Movie Stars” published in the Journal of Management Inquiry, it was “concluded that pay for female movie starts increases until they reach 34, then rapidly decreases (as does the number of roles for women of a certain age.)” The study also states, “For men, the peak earning age is 51, and there is no noticeable decline in wages after that.”
Race is also a factor in the wage gap, both in and out of Hollywood. In a Time Magazine article titled “Why You Should Care About the Hollywood Wage Gap” Alicia Adamcyk writes about the number of roles available to women as opposed to men.
“Women made up just 22% of protagonists in the top 100 domestic grossing films of 2015 and 34% of major characters,” writes Adamcyk. “Meanwhile, 76% of all female characters were white, 13% were black, 4% were Latina, and 3% were Asian.”
While the wage gap still persists in and out of Hollywood, there are movements like the Women’s March on Washington that are striving to make the gap smaller, and to ultimately close and gain pay equity for all women.