While it’s not surprising that women in the entertainment industry earn less than their male counterparts, the extent of that gender pay gap is extraordinary given that the combined earnings of this year’s top actors is up more than 15% since 2009, and at its highest level in five years.
This year’s Forbes’ list of Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Actors banked a collective $465 million, almost two and a half times more than what the top-paid actresses brought in. As Forbes reports: “With an estimated $75 million in earnings, Robert Downey, Jr. landed the #1 spot with a paycheck $10 million larger than the combined earnings of the five women who rounded out the top Actress’ list. By comparison, the two actors who rounded out the Actors list, Denzel Washington and Liam Neeson, each collected $33 million – the same figure that propelled Angelina Jolie to the top spot for actresses.
“Forbes’ list of Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Actresses is led by Angelina Jolie earning an astounding $33 million — and the #1 spot — thanks in large part to her upcoming role in Disney’s“Maleficent,” set to be released next summer. Big-budget films also helped to land starlets Jennifer Lawrence ($24 million) and Kristen Stewart ($22 million) into the top three, with Hollywood royalty such as Jennifer Aniston ($20 million), Sandra Bullock ($14 million), Charlize Theron ($15 million), and Julia Roberts ($11 million) all making the top 10.
“This type of earnings difference may not be unique to Hollywood, but comparing Tinseltown’s top-paid talent underscores just how acute and pervasive gender inequities are in show business. What are the driving forces behind this pay gap? First and foremost, roles for women continue to remain scare, particularly in an industry where far too often talent remains defined by youthful good looks rather than acting ability. The majority of gigs are limited to secondary parts or indie films versus the big blockbusters or franchises that generate the kinds of exorbitant paychecks that landed many of this year’s leading men into the top 10.
“Given how few starring roles are available for women in major Hollywood movies, it’s no wonder that 6 out of 10 the top-paid actresses this year have appeared on the list at least two or more times within the past five years, with Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolie each holding consecutive stints.