Kaley Cuoco recently learned the hard way to be careful what you say in an interview after her comments on feminism in the February issue of Redbook magazine provoked some harsh criticism from the media and fans alike. When asked if she considered herself a feminist, the 29-year old actress was quoted as saying “Is it bad if I say no? … I was never that feminist girl demanding equality, but maybe that’s because I’ve never really faced inequality.”
If it is true that she hasn’t run up against gender bias in her acting career, Cuoco is a rare case. The New York Film Academy looked at how women are portrayed in the top 500 films between 2007 and 2012 and found that only 30.8% of speaking characters were women, a third of which were shown partially naked or in sexually revealing clothing. They even found that this latter trend increased 32.5% for teenage actresses in the years studied.
What’s more, while the immediate backlash from her comments may have caused Cuoco to go on what she jokingly calls her “apology tour,” the sad truth is if she hasn’t experienced inequality yet, it might just be a matter of time. A recent study published in Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Age, Gender, and Compensation: A Study of Hollywood Movie Stars” found that a female actor’s age may play an additional role in Hollywood’s gender-wage gap:
Research on the gender-wage gap shows equivocal evidence regarding its magnitude, which likely stems from the different wage-related variables researchers include in their calculations. To examine whether pay differentials solely based on gender exist, we focused on the earnings of top performing professionals within a specific occupation to rule out productivity-related explanations for the gender-wage gap. Specifically, we investigated the interaction of gender and age on the earnings of Hollywood top movie stars. The results reveal that the average earnings per film of female movie stars increase until the age of 34 but decrease rapidly thereafter. Male movie stars’ average earnings per film reach the maximum at age 51 and remain stable after that.
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