The Opportunity Gap in Hollywood: A Microcosm of America
With the 2016 Academy Awards quickly approaching, gender and racial inequality in Hollywood has become a hot topic again. This is the second year in a row that only white actors have been nominated for an award. In addition, no women were nominated for cinematography, directing, or music score categories. Cinephiles have taken to Twitter to spotlight the many women and minorities deserving of recognition in Hollywood.
Unfortunately, inequality in the entertainment industry lasts far beyond awards season. Female film and television stars are often paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Jennifer Lawrence earned $52 million last year, making her the highest paid actress in the world. Still, that number is dwarfed the $80 million made by Robert Downey Jr. The disparity made headlines a year ago when a hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment revealed that Lawrence earned less than her male co-stars on American Hustle. The disparity has a racial component as well. Women of color also are routinely paid less than white actresses, and only one of the 19 highest-paid actresses is a minority.
Hollywood is only a small representation of the country’s problems with inequality. The gender and racial pay gap is even harder on the average American trying to provide for a family. In the United States, women take home about 78 percent of the salaries their male counterparts earn. Women of color face even worse disparities. On average, African American women make 64 percent, Native American women make 59 percent, and Hispanic women make 56 percent of a white man’s earnings.
In many families, a woman is the sole or primary provider. African American and Hispanic families are disproportionately poor. The racial and gender pay gap makes it even more difficult for hard-working parents to give their children the resources they need to succeed.
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