Actress Sienna Miller is our new hero. In a recent interview with Vogue, the "American Sniper" star revealed that she'd recently turned down a major role on Broadway after learning how much less she was going to be paid than her possible male co-star.
“It was a play with just two of us on stage and I was offered less than half of what he was going to be paid,” Miller told Vogue. “If it was two men, it wouldn’t probably happen. Sad, but I walked away.”
"The producer... wouldn’t pay me within a million miles of what the male actor was being paid," she continued, "And women always have to do more publicity than the men. The only way is to make a stand. We are going to have to make sacrifices to make change. I want to turn up and feel dignified."
Get it, girl
The wage gap (which, BTW, hasn't gotten any closer to closing in the last 7 years. Ugh.) affects all of us, but the disparity has gotten lots of extra attention in Hollywood recently. Following last year's Sony Hack, we learned about the drastic difference between what Hollywood's highest-paid male and female actors are paid. For example, Hollywood's highest paid actor, Robert Downey Jr., made $80 million in a year, while the highest-paid actress, Jennifer Lawrence, made $52 million.
After the hack, the then co-Chairman of Sony Pictures, Amy Pascal, infuriated some people by trying to put the responsibility back on women to force a change in the industry by refusing jobs if they aren't offered enough money (as opposed to putting pressure on executives to offer women fair pay in the first place). “They have to walk away," she said. "People shouldn’t be so grateful for jobs."
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to do that, obviously (and it's oftentimes not even necessarily clear that a male co-star is being paid more) -- so for those who do, like Sienna Miller, walking away from a major deal like this makes a powerful statement. But what if you're not a world-famous actor like Sienna Miller -- is there anything you can do to fight the effects of the wage gap in your own life?
Earlier this year on Equal Pay Day (the day of the year that represents how far into the year women have to work to earn what men earned in the year before), MTV News spoke with Vicki Shabo, Vice President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, about how to handle pay inequality at your own workplace.
“Young women are paid less on average right out of college,” Shabo told MTV News. “The most important thing for a young woman to do is try to gather all the information they can, but they should also be cognizant that there may be policies in their workplace prohibiting them from discussing wages and salaries.”
Policies banning employees from discussing their wages are often illegal, but the penalties for breaking the law aren't very harsh -- so it's still important to know what those policies are and to be very careful when you're gathering information so that you can’t be fired.
“Once you have safely armed yourself with as much information as you can,” said Shabo, “first try to find a supervisor within your workplace or a member of your HR department who is amenable to working with you to make sure that you’re paid what you deserve. [If that doesn’t work], you may have a claim under the Equal Pay Act or under state law. You can file a charge with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).”