While the gender pay gap is still an issue that is glaringly problematic in 2016 across the board, there have been an increasing number of frank public discussions about it, particularly from celebrities. The only way to illuminate change is to talk about an issue, and I, for one, am grateful that many celebs are discussing the equal pay issue, because it gives hope that if public figures are using their voices to ignite change, that the rest of the world will follow suit. Of course, the salaries in Hollywood are on a much greater scale than what the average person will see in a lifetime, but it still matters: No one should do the same kind of work as someone else and receive less for it due to their gender.
When celebrities talk openly and candidly about the wage gap, it only serves as positive reinforcement that change can happen in our lifetime, and that is always a good thing. These celebrities simply aren't OK with making less money than a man simply based on gender, and they're using their public stature as a way to break down these barriers for all of us. It's incredibly inspiring and also super critical that they do.
1. Jennifer Lawrence
Lawrence has been one of the most outspoken actors fighting the wage gap in Hollywood in recent times, and her candor as a young, A-list star is exactly what is needed to fuel real, actual change. In a Lenny Letter essay on the topic, Lawrence wrote,
Arquette has made it her mission to use her celebrity to shed light on the equal pay issue, petitioning to the Supreme Court and U.S. House of Representatives to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which Arquette says in her petition was "first introduced in 1923 by Alice Paul, is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that affirms that all citizens deserve equal rights under the law regardless of sex or gender. Seems self-evident, right?" She added,
Arquette's petition has raised upwards of 102,000 signatures since its creation in February 2016.
Stone was quick to acknowledge that the wage gap issue is important beyond the high salaries in Hollywood, telling People that change "has to start with regular pay, not just for movie stars, but regular pay for the regular woman in the regular job," and discussing times early in her career when she remembers, "sitting in my kitchen with my manager and just crying and saying I'm not going to work until I get paid. I still got paid so much less than any men."
In 2015, Paltrow told Variety regarding equal pay in Hollywood: "It can be frustrating. It can be painful. Your salary is a way to quantify what you’re worth. If men are being paid a lot more for doing the same thing, it feels sh*tty."
In 2014, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Watson created a campaign around the issue of gender equality. Her campaign, HeForShe, addresses issues ranging from equal pay to equal access to education for women and girls, and in her introductory speech, Watson said, "the reality is that if we do nothing it will take 75 years, or for me to be nearly a hundred before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work."
At Variety's Power of Women luncheon in 2015, Hayek said, "This is a problem that is in every single industry. If you have the same capacities and you are doing the same job, it is criminal not to pay the same salary."
In a powerful speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Washington expressed the importance of standing up for equal rights. She said, "Today there are people trying take away rights that our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers fought for: our right to vote, our right to choose, affordable quality education, equal pay, access to health care. We the people can't let that happen."
These quotes are some seriously powerful examples of celebrities using their voice to fuel change in the gender pay disparity, not just in the film and sports industries, but in all work forces. Bravo to them!