Equal Pay, Equal Lines



Travis Richardson_5x7_300dpi (1) by Travis Richardson


Happy Equal Pay Day! Today is equal pay day in America. That means that from April 12 going forward, women will make the same amount as men for the rest of the year. The previous four months and 11 days women have been essentially working for free compared to their male counterparts. For every dollar a man makes, a woman on average makes 79¢ doing the same work. There is even more disparity when race comes into the equation. http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2016/04/12/equal-pay-day-inequality-women-gender/82913078/

Since I employ nobody in the world, there isn’t much I can do except bring awareness to this issue. I should also note that as a dude, I have awful negotiating skills for my own self interest and have probably been underpaid for work many times. Equal pay for equal work is a no-brainer. It’s good for everybody: you, me, her and him.  

In similar news, yesterday I saw an amazing body of research that confirms what everybody knows about movies, that they skew towards men’s roles. But I had no idea how lopsided it was until Hanah Anderson and Matt Daniels analyzed 2000 screenplays and came up with this amazing and shocking data set: http://polygraph.cool/films/

In today’s world it seems that facts don’t matter to a lot of people, just spout of an opinion with conviction and people might believe it’s true. Research takes time and effort. Anderson and Daniels sifted through those scripts tagging male and female lines and getting a word count for everybody. While they admit that movies change on the set with improvisation and last minute changes or scenes are cut in the editing room, scripts still represent most of what goes on the screen. Here is the breakdown.


I knew the numbers would be skewed towards men, especially with war and prison movies in the mix, but not 1500+ out of 2000. I could go on, but seriously look at the site: http://polygraph.cool/films/

So this leads me to my point above where I said I can’t do anything about women’s equality in pay. I don’t write or direct major motion pictures, but what I do in my not-day job is write fiction. Crime fiction primarily. Although I haven’t analyzed my works very deeply, it’s safe to safe say most of my work is male centric. Not all, but a majority.  (Over the past couple of years I’ve been more inclusive including a story coming out on April 15 in Yellow Mama and another later this winter with female protagonists.)

So I asked myself why. It’s too easy to say I’m a male and I know men better. That might have been the case, but I write fictional characters, so they can be who I want them to be. It could be that most of my stories have violence in them. Perhaps I don’t want to hurt a woman on the page or I think women are smarter than men and wouldn’t let situations escalate to guns or fists or whatever implement of destruction are used in the plot. Regardless, it is something for me think about as I continue to write.

Anything that you think is missing your works?


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17 thoughts on “Equal Pay, Equal Lines

  1. Great post Travis! I’ll read the links later but enjoyed what you had to say on the subject of equal pay. Since my books have a female protagonist who is strong and expects equality, I’ve tried to do my best to make readers aware of inequality in the past. Too bad it still exists but it’s our job to be aware and fight for what’s right.


    1. Thank you Linda.

      I tried to get a link to embed with some of the data, but it didn’t work right. I was impressed at the amount of number crunching that went into the research. I do feel that we we’re getting better at inequity in several areas, but apparently not movies.



  2. Very enlightening post. The stats on the study are amazing. I am sharing this with Casper Writers group tonight. I find it interesting in light of the known fact that women speak about 13,000 more words a day then men! I guess I have never worried about pay disparities as I have always gotten a job I am interested in, and never worried usually about pay if I liked the job. Probably not normal that way. I do feel there should be equal pay for equal jobs regardless of gender. Thanks for the info!


    1. Thank you Neva,

      That 13k words a day is funny. I believe it. At work I’m out-talked by female colleagues hands down. I know part of Hollywood’s problem is that they are catering to young men who will often see only men leads and are prone to repeat viewings.



  3. This has been a issue my whole lifetime, which is interesting, for most of the jobs I’ve held were non-gender. We were all paid the same. Still I have always been aware of the journey both men and women have had to make to find equity.
    You make a good point about writers and their stereotype of men and women. I tend to lean more toward the stronger women in my writing, but the men are no pushovers. It seems to be a cultural concept that is at work, but not necessarily based on fact. Thanks for a thoughtful post. Doris


  4. This is a really interesting subject, Travis. I had read articles about the skewed male/female roles in movies last week but since I don’t watch enough movies it’s not something that had bothered me. The other aspect of inequality in industry and commerce is more frustrating. I was lucky in my profession as a primary teacher that in Scotland there was never any difference in pay for men and women during my time. However, when I started it was mostly men who became head teachers. That changed by the 1990s and it’s probably the case of there being a lot more female head teachers now. In my historical writing, I have tried to balance out the women to men ratio and I think it’s fairly even in my contemporary writing. My time travel for kids is another story because I have 3 main characters, two of whom are lads. If i totted up the dialogue, including the adult characters, I would probably find the bias is towards the male though I don’t think I consciously meant it to be that way.


    1. Thank you Nancy,

      In the states teacher wages are low. My Dad was a teacher in Oklahoma with was 48th or 49th in pay. He had to work two jobs. There is a sad argument that jobs that have a majority women workers (teaching, nursing, etc.) will be valued less because of sexism. It seems to be the case here, but I hope it will change.



  5. I also wrote strong male characters, with strong female characters. I think we do that because it seems to sell better. I have a novel I’m kind of working on that has a leading lady. Thanks for the info. Cher’ley


  6. I live in Wyoming, known as “The Equality State.” However, as our local news reported Wyoming has an even greater discrepancy between the sexes: women make only 69 cents for every dollar a man does. I do suppose roles, wages, and words can tilt in more favor of one sex vs. another. Very interesting post, Travis!


  7. It is sad that women make less than men and it’s been a common trend for years. You could argue the same thing about minorities and the lack of diversity in films which I tend to pay more attention to for some reason. I guess being a female half-Asian, I seem to focus more on the “Asian” part of myself and how Asians are widely under-represented in the media. Or else they’re ridiculed and/or stereotyped. Maybe that’s why in my crime fiction, I like to portray Asians as “regular people,” whether they’re female or male, and they’re not quiet, submissive, geeky math nerds or ninjas. They can commit crimes, make horrible choices, and screw up like everyone else. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Travis! You always know how to create an interesting dialogue.


  8. Interesting post. I worked first as a teacher, where the pay is equal (at least in CA). Then as an independent contractor tech writer in Silicon Valley, where there may have been disparities but I wasn’t aware of them. But I do know of other women who were quite outraged at the “old boys club” even in a new and innovative industry. The role of women has changed dramatically in my lifetime. Unfortunately, it may take some time for everyone to catch up.

    I write romantic suspense so, of course, my books are mostly in the female POV. My protagonists are strong women who meet up with equally strong men. Maybe romance writing makes up for some of the disparity. 😉


  9. Interesting facts that I think we all suspected. We have come a long way but we still have a long way to go. As a man writing about male characters is well, easier. That isn’t a criticism I think it works both ways.


  10. You mention movies skewing toward men’s roles… I’ve watched some westerns where I swear there’s twenty men performers and one woman. Ridiculous. I can remember debating equal pay back when I got out college in the early 1970s. Here we are in 2016 and it still hasn’t happened. Someone on Facebook posted an ad from 1913 from an anti-suffrage group opposed to women getting the vote. Their reasons sound similar to the anti-ERA stuff we heard back in the day. Seems like we as a society take one step forward and two steps back.


  11. In a women’s studies course in 1985, it was reported that women made 69 cents on the dollar compared to males. It’s so heartening to know that in the thirty years since, our worth has increased by 10 cents. It was also pointed out in a story on NPR last week that lower pay means lower retirement income and more stress on the social network, so that 79 cents impacts everyone. A man told me, back when, that male nurses are stronger than females, so the males would naturally make more money. By that standard, I didn’t say, doctors should all be female and nurses should all be male. Oh well. Thanks for this post. I’m going to be watching movies and TV shows more closely in the future.


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