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Study shows gender, age gap in Hollywood

| Sunday, February 9, 2014

Although moviegoers flock to the newest movies starring young actresses, massive box office numbers do not necessarily translate to fortune for them.

According to a study by professor of management Timothy Judge, women have significantly lower average earnings per film than their male counterparts early on in their careers.

Judge examined earnings numbers from 265 Hollywood film actors and actresses to compile the study’s findings.

“We used various archival sources to locate information about the actors and actresses,” Judge said. “Similarly, we located information about movies made, earnings for each movie, as well as information on the movies form various online sources such as IMDb.”

Judge, along with his colleague Irene De Pater, used an equation that considered rankings in a given star’s film credits, his or her number of films and leading roles and Academy Award and Golden Globe award nominations and wins.

According to a University press release, the study found that female movie stars gain their highest average earnings per film when they reach 34 years old. Average salaries decrease sharply after this threshold.

Male actors, on the other hand, maximize their earning power when they are 51, and they do not experience a significant earnings drop-off after that age.

“We came to the conclusion that the work of older actresses may be less valued than the work of their male counterparts,” Judge said in the press release. “In fact, we found there are far fewer roles available for female movie stars over age 45.”

The study pinpoints a correlation between per-film earnings and awards. In terms of recognition, it notes that the average age of female Golden Globe winners is 42 years old, while the average age for male winners is 52 years old.

Judge said he has been interested in the gender wage gap for some time.

“I saw a movie called ‘Searching for Debra Winger’ about how it is difficult for older actresses to land prime roles and thus I started to look into it,” Judge said.

Judge said the study reveals a negative side to Hollywood’s culture.

“Hollywood loves to extoll their progressive values,” Judge said. “But when you look at their actual behavior such as promoting smoking or violence in movies, or in this case, gender equality, we find their behavior lacking.”

The study also has implications outside Hollywood’s realm, as the findings correlate to the nation’s gender wage gap, Judge said.

“Our study is a unique examination of the gender wage gap in that it combines the impact of gender and age on earnings of an equally successful group of people in a highly specific field where workers are essentially free agents paid by their expected market value,” Judge said. “Therefore, the study findings of a significant age-gender gap are important to all of us gathered around the water cooler.”


About Peter Durbin

Peter is a Junior Science-Business major from Prospect Heights, Illinois. He enjoys sports, music, and all things Quentin Tarantino.

Contact Peter