Earlier this week, Daily Pop host and E! News anchor Catt Sadler announced that she was leaving the network. The reason? Prior to negotiations to extend her contract, Sadler says that she learned her male cohost, Jason Kennedy, “wasn’t just making a little bit more than me but was making double my salary and has been for several years.”
“That was really hard to swallow, but you know information is supposed to be power and when my team began negotiations knowing what we knew, that was the barometer in which I expected to be paid, based on the law and based on what I know to be fair. And what I believe in my heart of hearts is reasonable,” Sadler told People magazine.
Sadler says that when the network refused to pay her the same as Kennedy — “they didn’t come close — nowhere close, not even remotely close” — she decided to leave.
The Response From E! — and Other Women in the Entertainment Industry
In a statement, E! told People:
“E! compensates employees fairly and appropriately based on their roles, regardless of gender. We appreciate Catt Sadler’s many contributions at E! News and wish her all the best following her decision to leave the network.”
Jennifer Lawrence shared a post written by Sadler on her Facebook page, adding, “Thank you Catt for sharing your story.” After the Sony hack a few years ago, Lawrence learned that her male costars in American Hustle were paid considerably more than she earned on the film.
Jessica Chastain also spoke out about Sadler’s situation:
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) December 20, 2017
Why You Should Care About Celebrity Gender Pay Gaps
While neither Sadler nor E! would say how much she earned, it’s safe to say that her salary far exceeded that of most working people. However, just because celebrities make the big bucks doesn’t mean that it’s fair to pay women in the entertainment industry less than their male counterparts.
Sadler’s story resonates in a very particular way: her negotiation with E! reminds us that women are not paid less merely because they’re less likely to ask for raises.
Sadler's story reminds us that women are not paid less merely because they’re less likely to negotiate.
In fact, PayScale’s data show that women are nearly as likely as men to negotiate — 42 percent of women vs. 44 percent of men. Women who do ask are less likely to get, however — 43 percent of women vs. 46 percent of men who asked received some kind of pay increase.
Plus, research shows that both men and women penalize women who negotiate.
“In repeated studies, the social cost of negotiating for higher pay has been found to be greater for women than it is for men,” writes Hannah Riley Bowles, director of the Women and Power Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard Business Review. “Men can certainly overplay their hand and alienate negotiating counterparts. However, in most published studies, the social cost of negotiating for pay is not significant for men, while it is significant for women.”
In other words, even when women ask, they’re less likely to be paid fairly, due in part to unconscious bias. The result is a gender pay gap that can’t be explained away by job choice, lack of ambition or poor negotiating skills.
Women suffer, but they don’t suffer alone. Forty percent of households have a female primary breadwinner, which means that pay inequities affect children and families as well as individual women.
That’s something Sadler can relate to.
“I’m a single mom of two kids,” she says. “I’ve given my all to this network. I’ve sacrificed time away from my family and I have dedicated my entire career to this network. And when you learn something like that, it makes you feel very small and underappreciated and undervalued. It’s heartbreaking.”
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