‘Equal pay for equal work’. One demand of millions of women involved in countless fields of work. This massive number of occupations include the famous pop-industry which is the source of income for many women. Gender pay gap has always been a sensational issue in the film world which is often debated, but never heeded. This discrimination based on gender aches me every time I read an article or an interview of deserving female actors discussing how brazenly they are being made to feel lesser of their male counterparts. I, therefore, could not resist my urge to bring up this topic and discuss how some celebrities have spoken up against this practice.
Emma Watson, an outspoken feminist, opened up about the pay gap in Hollywood while talking to Esquire magazine. The Harry Potter star said: “Whether you are a women on a tea plantation in Kenya, or a stockbroker on Wall Street, or a Hollywood actress, no one is being paid equally.”
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch has never kept himself away from telling why he is a feminist. Speaking with Radio Times magazine, the Sherlock Holmes lead said: “Look at your quotas, ask what women are being paid, and say: ‘If she’s not being paid the same as the men, I’m not doing it.’ Equal pay and a place at the table are the central tenets of feminism.”
In an interview with The Times of India, Taapsee Pannu complained about the lack of pay parity in women-centric movies. The actor said: “Half of a hero’s salary is equal to the entire budget of a women-driven film of an A-grade actress.”
There are many conceivable reasons behind the pay gap in the movie industry. Of all the movies being liked by the youth, or even crossing the 200-crore line, most fall under the ‘action’ genre, which is, without a doubt, dominated by male actors. These movies also seem to have multiple sequences. Many actresses face a decline in movie offers after entering their 40s, while the same does not happen with male actors. According to the Forbes’ list of highest-earning actors, Scarlett Johansson, the highest-paid female actor earned $56 million, which was even lesser than the earning of the 7th highest paid male actor Bradley Cooper.
The above cases from the pop-world are not the only ones existing. From a migrant labour, to a renowned businesswoman, females face difficulty in getting paid equally in almost all the jobs. According to the Monster Salary Index (MSI) published in March 2019, women in India earn 19% less than men. Going into the depth of the topic, several other gender-based prejudices in the society are responsible for this discrimination. No statistics are required to understand how girl children in rural India are barred from attending schools. This reduces the number of adult women doing paid work. Another reason is low governmental or private investments in female-dominated jobs. Whether a choice or an 'expectation from the society', women do tend to move out of their workplaces to manage their families and homes. All these factors together widen the wage gap.
Despite of this issue being an apparent one, we rarely ever see any protests demanding pay equality, and probably, considering our ‘short’ life span of around 75 years, we will never be able to see this matter being raised in any election either. No doubt, efforts are being made and there has been a significant improvement, as more and more women are undertaking jobs that were earlier dominated by men. However, we still have a long way to go before we see the day when people will be paid according to their credibility, not gender.