Equal Pay For Equal Work? Not Here.

equal pay for equal work

Is it concerning that Adam Sandler makes 5 times more money than Meryl Streep? It is when you consider the overall pay gap between men and women across all industries.

As we cruise along the boisterous highway of political rhetoric and stump speeches, topics emerge that pique our interest.

Maybe you are intrigued by the Trump machine, or how a socialist like Bernie Sanders has you redefining your methods of evaluating decisions, or maybe it’s a policy approach that you find yourself tied to.

Despite what the intro paragraph implies, this is not going to be a political discussion.

I’d be out of my depth, speaking out of turn and possibly losing our audience. I tried to get into politics before, not literally, just learning more, and even studying the decision making patterns of politicians made me feel a bit unclean.

But there is a topic, lying just under the surface, yet to be tackled by the bloated panel of candidates, and it affects everyone who works (which you most likely do, or will soon). So despite our attempt to avoid the politics, some policy decisions impact our everyday lives and deserve our attention.

Forbes, one of the most respected conveyors of financial news and analysis, recently published their list of the highest paid actors and actresses for 2015 and it is a microcosm for what we see in our regular world.

No, you will not be asked to cry for any of the people on the list, they are fine today and will be fine for centuries to come.

But there is an undeniable trend which isn’t isolated to the few, the proud, the Hollywood elite.

The trend that emerges when you study the top paid actors and actresses #equalpayequalwork Click To Tweet

Let’s take a look at the list:

The Actors:

  1. Robert Downey Jr. $80m
  2. Jackie Chan $50m
  3. Vin Diesel $47m
  4. Bradley Cooper $41.5m
  5. Adam Sandler $41m
  6. Tom Cruise $40m
  7. Amitabh Bachchan $33.5m

  8. Salman Khan $33.5m
  9. Akshay Kumar $32.5m
  10. Mark Wahlberg $32m
  11. Dwayne Johnson $31.5m
  12. Johnny Depp $30m
  13. Leonardo DiCaprio $29m
  14. Channing Tatum $29m
  15. Chris Hemsworth $27m
  16. Daniel Craig $27m
  17. Matthew McConaughey $26.5m
  18. Shah Rukh Khan $26m

Total earnings of the top 18 actors*: $657 million

Mind the Gap

Now let’s shift out attention to the actresses:

  1. Jennifer Lawrence $52m
  2. Scarlett Johansson $35.5m
  3. Melissa McCarthy $23m
  4. Bingbing Fan $21m
  5. Jennifer Aniston $16.5m
  6. Julia Roberts $16m
  7. Angelina Jolie $15m
  8. Reese Witherspoon $15m
  9. Anne Hathaway $12m
  10. Kristen Stewart $12m
  11. Cameron Diaz $11m
  12. Gwyneth Paltrow $9m
  13. Meryl Streep $8m
  14. Amanda Seyfried $8m
  15. Sandra Bullock $8m
  16. Emma Stone $6.5
  17. Mila Kunis $6.5m
  18. Natalie Portman $6m

Total earnings of the top 18 actresses*: $281 million

According to the American Association of University Women, women are paid just 78% of the salaries provided their male counterparts doing the same job. This Hollywood example is just that, an example on a grand celebrity scale, and while we can’t empathize with their injustice, we can identify its presence.

These are faces we know, people we pay to see and often follow on Twitter. If this wide of a pay gap can happen to these high-profile women, it can, and does happen to you.

Male actors, at the top of the pyramid, get paid 133% more than their female counterparts.


Let that soak in a moment.

Don’t get Lost in the Bling

This gap exists across the board: Specialists, Coordinators, Managers, Directors, Vice-Presidents. It doesn’t matter if you are in Sales, Marketing, Television, Radio or working at the corner store – this is real.

The pay gap between men & women isn't isolated to Hollywood, it's in your neighborhood too Click To Tweet

Actors and actresses are just the launching point for this very real conversation, one you deserve to be having in your mind.

The facts are numbing:

This list isn’t here so we can marvel at the fact Adam Sandler still makes gobs of money per box office bust (which is hard to fathom) it’s here to expose a very real problem that touches each and every one of us.

Even if you aren’t into politics, this is a policy discussion you may want to pay attention to in the political cycle of eternal blowhards – at least until Trump tells you you’re fired.

*The list of actors actually continues 34 deep, since the threshold to make the Forbes list was earning above 13m, the actresses list stopped at 18, even with their threshold set at a much lower $6m in earnings. For fair comparison we limited both lists to 18.   

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.


  1. Carl Galloway says:

    Disgusting a real sham job on the ladies.The top 10 female’s should be paid no less than 45 ml and up.I enjoy the ladies because of their talent,the men all appear all muscle and no talent.

    • Thanks Carl – it’s really a microcosm for our current world, there is a huge pay gap between men and women for equal work and that is a sad truth whether you are a Hollywood actor or Director of Marketing – Brian

  2. I work in an all male field and it is an actual joke what men make verses women. I personally believe if women were to be in charge of the world the male species would diminish!!!!!!!!!!

    • Yikes – I’m on board with equal pay for equal work, heck I wrote the article and I’m a member of the male species, but I hope we aren’t diminished should women take over. -Brian