It’s 2017, but women continue to be paid just 81% of the average full-time salaried male income. Despite a narrowing gap due to our progress in education and being included in the workforce, the US Census Bureau reported that this earnings ratio hasn’t seen much change in a decade, and it’s unlikely that women will reach pay equity until 2059. (By that time, we can only hope the numbers stabilize for the sake of our daughters—and daughters’ daughters.) From Jennifer Lawrence’s viral Lenny Letter to Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign for women’s advancement, some of Hollywood’s leading ladies have come forward to denounce the gender wage gap, as well as the impact it might have on the future generation of girls. Here, the celebs whose quotes help inspire change.
"With age comes, 'I don't give a f**k. I don't care if you think I'm a bitch. I'm going to ask for it.' ... I try to be polite and respectful, but at the same time, I think you have to create that space and respect that you think you deserve. I work hard, I'm on time, I know my lines. I'm 100% invested in everything I do, so please treat me the same as you do my male costars."
—During her talk as part of Kering's Women in Motion program at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival
"My decision around what I do, why I do it, financially, are personal. And I think those questions are really for the producers—why are you paying women less? I feel like actresses often get lumped with these questions, and it's like, sure, there's disparity, but you should ask the people in power—they're the ones who have the responsibility and the power to change stuff."
—Evening Standard, May 2017
"When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn't get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early."
—In an essay for Lenny Letter, October 2015
"I was like, 'I want to be paid the same as Kevin.' It was a perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male—the patriarch—and the matriarch are equal, and they are in House of Cards. I was looking at statistics, and Claire Underwood's character was more popular than [Frank's] for a period of time, so I capitalized on that moment. I was like, 'You better pay me or I'm going to go public.' And they did."
—At a Rockefeller Foundation event, May 2016
"We are not supposed to talk about money because people will think you're 'difficult' or a 'diva.' But there's a willingness now to be like, 'Fine. Call me a 'diva,' call me a 'feminazi,' call me 'difficult,' call me a 'First World feminist,' call me whatever you want—it's not going to stop me from trying to do the right thing and make sure that the right thing happens. Because it doesn't just affect me; it affects all the other women who are in this with me, and it affects all the other men who are in this with me, too. Hollywood is just a small piece of a gigantic puzzle, but it's in the spotlight. Whether you are a woman on a tea plantation in Kenya or a stockbroker on Wall Street or a Hollywood actress, no one is being paid equally."
—Esquire UK, March 2016
"I believe in equal pay, first of all. I'm sorry, if a woman does the same job as a man, she should be paid the same amount of money. She just should. That's just the way the world should work. What are you telling your daughter when she grows up? 'You've got to just understand that you're a girl. You have a vagina, so that's not as valuable.' What are you telling her?"
—Mashable, February 2016
"To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America."
—During her acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 2015 Academy Awards
"It's a bigger issue than money. I know we're focused on the money part right now; that's just a by-product....I always make a joke: 'Watch, we're going to walk down the red carpet—I'm going to be asked about my dress and my hair while the man standing next to me will be asked about his performance and political issues.' Once we start shifting how we perceive women and stop thinking about them as 'less than,' the pay disparity will take care of itself."
—Variety, November 2015
"It can be frustrating. It can be painful. Your salary is a way to quantify what you're worth. If men are being paid a lot more for doing the same thing, it feels shitty."
—Variety, October 2015
"I have to give them credit because once I asked, they said yes. They did not fight it. And maybe that's the message: That we just need to put our foot down. This is a good time for us to bring this to a place of fairness, and girls need to know that being a feminist is a good thing. It doesn't mean that you hate men. It means equal rights. If you're doing the same job, you should be compensated and treated in the same way."
—Elle UK, May 2015
"In the past few months, I've become convinced of one thing: If I were a man, I'd be paid more. I realize that some people may not sympathize with an actress who gets to be in movies and on TV for a living. But if you take away names and vocations, the fact is that in 2015 a man is still getting paid more money to do the same job as a woman does, in Hollywood and everywhere else. And no matter where you live or what you do, that's bullshit."
—In an essay for Glamour, May 2015