The gender wage gap in Hollywood isn’t a secret. Women are paid less than their male peers all of the time. Jodie Foster is no stranger to this inequity, having been in the business for a long time, but she recently spoke about the issue the Entertainment Weekly satellite radio station.
Foster says it was difficult to be “interested in millionaires worried about who gets paid more,” which is a reasonable statement. Even if Jennifer Lawrence is paid less than her male co-stars, she still makes more from one movie than many people make in years of employment.
But that’s not the point. The wage gap for actors is just another example of how women across the board get paid less for the same work.
Foster points out that the market determines the value of an actor’s performance. Casting a woman in a leading role is often seen as a risky choice. Producers don’t like risk and are often unlikely to make an unconventional choice.
In fact, producers also see putting women in leading roles behind the camera as writers, directors and perceived as risky. That’s what we need to change. The perception is that audiences don’t want to see female leads or movies directed by women.
Foster also pointed out that there are women to blame for this too, as there are some powerful women executives who made their way to the top but haven’t used their power to help out other women. They’ve simply bought into the premise that women are risky.
Some women have proven that they can carry a TV show or feature film, can direct or write as well, if not better, than their male peers. But until they’re seen as something more than flukes, Hollywood will continue to treat women like they’re a risky investment.