The UK was shocked as the BBC revealed details of its payroll and a huge gender wage gap became apparent; women and BAME performers are earning dramatically lower than men are for doing the exact same job. It hasn't gone unnoticed that this news comes just as the first female Doctor Who has been announced; I can only presume that they saw an opportunity to save a chunk of money with which they can top up poor Chris Evans' £2million salary.
Female presenters, actors and legends such as Clare Balding, Samira Ahmed and Elaine Paige have written an open letter to director general Tony Hall calling for him to take action. But not everyone is weighing in in a useful way- Casualty actor Tom Chambers has come under fire for suggesting that the reason men are paid more is because they have to support the WHOLE family, not just themselves. Because all working women I know with families are just buying shoes and lipsticks and delicious low-fat yoghurt. And if it came down to spending their last fiver on nappies or a nice dry sauvignon blanc, you better believe those babies would be pooping into the wind.
Last month, it was revealed that Gal Gadot (two babies) got paid $300,000 to play Wonderwoman, while Henry Cavill (no babies) made over $14m as Superman. I mean, what chance do the rest of us have if even fighty warrior goddess WonderWoman can't defeat the patriarchy? Wonder Woman has been a huge box office surprise this year. It broke records before it was even released as the only female directed live action movie to have a budget of over $100million, which despite being a substantial amount of money is still 10s of millions less than any action hero film with a male lead. Doesn't sound fair does it? Well, actually it is. Think about all the money that the female led movies can save on the wardrobe department. You can get a very decent bra and pant combo for about £7 these days, and thats apparently all Wonder Woman needs to save the world.
As a woman and a performer, I'm glad this news is out in the open; awareness is a good thing. Nearly as good as not having a gender pay gap at all. But it does apply to all industries. Despite old rich Conservatives telling you that the pay gap doesn't exist because, like below the breadline poverty and systemic racism, it doesn't affect them directly, statistics prove that women earn, on average, 80% of what their male counterparts are earning for doing the exact same job. Or, if you happen to be a woman of colour, more like 75% .
And it's not as though women aren't putting the hours in. It's 2017. We've got female world leaders in Michelle Bachelet, Angela Merkel, Beyonce... A recent study by The Institute for Women's Policy predicts that equal pay probably won't be achieved until the 23rd century.
So until then, what can we all do? Here's what I suggest. We may not be able to control how much we're being paid, but we are certainly able to control how much of our jobs we actually do. So if we're only going to be paid 75% of what men are paid, then we should only do 75% of our jobs. How you ask? Well, divide your job into four, and just do three of them. It works in any profession. Teacher? At the start of each lesson pick between 12-15 children, and place them outside of the classroom. Game of Thrones actors - just get one and a half boobs out. Midwives - go ahead and leave a leg in, and Clare Balding - commentate on the first three quarters of a race and leave people to figure out who won themselves.
This way, we can ensure that...
Jenny Bede hopes you enjoyed the 75% of this segment that she felt it was fair to write. To view the remaining 22% come and see Jenny Bede: EGGTIME at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 8:10pm in the Pleasance Dome, 2-28 Aug.