Q: What’s The Value Of An Acting Oscar?

A: A lot less if you’re a woman


The Oscar nominations are in. The Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards are done. The 2015 red carpet season is go. But this year, it isn’t just business as usual – the business of the business is, in a post-Sony-hack world, a painfully present issue.

So, let’s revisit the figures. 


Above: Cate Blanchett accepts her Best Actress award at the 2014 Oscars.

Both Forbes and The International Business Times last year highlighted the economics thesis of Kevin Sweeney, a master’s student at America’s Colgate University, which examined gender differences in the effects of an acting Oscar win.

Unsurprisingly, the data showed that the salary bump of male winners is grossly, disproportionately larger than that of their female counterparts.


The average salary increase for men after winning an Oscar is in the region of $3.9 million. By contrast, a woman winner won’t even see an extra $500,000 added to her worth.

Of course, it’s not that the difference in pay between male and female actors is new information as we move into 2015 Oscars territory – Dorothy Pomerantz, who reports on Hollywood economics for Forbes magazine, has long been quoted as saying: ‘In Hollywood, there is always going to be a difference between what men earn and what women earn.’ Rather, it’s that we’ve become mad enough about it to believe that that difference might be eradicated.

Above: The Sony hack revealed that Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were paid significantly less than Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale for American Hustle.

After all, just last week it was reported that Charlize Theron had negotiated her way to equal pay with Chris Hemsworth (a cool $10 million cheque, since you ask), for the prequel to Snow White And The Huntsman. Is it really such a stretch to believe that actresses can all do this now – and, by extension, any woman in any industry?

While the validity of Sweeney’s exact figures have been called into question, we’re inclined to believe that such a dramatic gulf does exist. It's not cool. And it makes Charlize’s singular achievement all the more Herculean. But unless all women keep pushing for pay equality, be that ten million or two thousand, that gap won’t start closing. It won’t even stay the same. It will get bigger.

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