Can Jennifer Lawrence jumpstart Hollywood wage gap conversation?

Actress Jennifer Lawrence has spoken out against wage inequality in the film business.

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP­/File
Jennifer Lawrence attends 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2' press line in San Diego, Calif., July 9. Ms. Lawrence says she blamed herself for failing as a negotiator when she learned from the leaked Sony emails that her male co-stars were paid more for 'American Hustle.' The Oscar-winning actress wrote in an essay for the online newsletter Lenny on Tuesday, that she didn’t want to fight for millions of dollars, partly because she didn’t need the money and partly because she didn’t want to come across as “difficult” or 'spoiled.'

She's currently the world’s best-paid actresses but Jennifer Lawrence says she has experienced Hollywood's much discussed gender wage discrepancy.

The actress has revealed that she's a target for discrimination when it comes to her paycheck.  

In an essay written for Lena Dunham’s “Lenny Letter” newsletter, the "Joy" actress shared her thoughts on finding out that she made much less than her male counterparts in "American Hustle." Ms. Lawrence learned of this fact in emails leaked during last year’s Sony Pictures hack.

"It's hard for me to speak about my experience as a working woman because I can safely say my problems aren't exactly relatable. When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people ... I didn't get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself," Lawrence explained.

She added: "I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn't want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don't need. (I told you it wasn't relatable, don't hate me)."

Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union requested an investigation into gender discrimination in Hollywood. However, the difference between women and men's pay persists beyond Hollywood.

The US Labor Department, which holds a National Equal Pay Day each year to bring attention to pay inequity, says full-time working women earn 77 percent of what their male counterparts earn.

In a bid to combat the gender pay gap, last week, California passed legislation that protects workers from discrimination and retaliation if they ask questions about how much other people earn.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that, 

The fair pay law strengthens and broadens California's existing law and a 52-year-old federal law that requires employers pay men and women equally for doing the exact same job.

But now, the law requires employers to pay equally for 'substantially similar work' and shifts the burden of proof to employers to justify why they provide different pay to men and women doing the same work. Employers also cannot retaliate against employees for discussing or asking how much their peers are paid.

Forbes recently reported that Lawrence made $52 million in 2015. In her candid essay, Lawrence explained that there was a reason why she didn't ask for more money. "I didn't want to seem 'difficult' or 'spoiled,'" she said. "That seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn't worry about being 'difficult' or 'spoiled.'"

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