Executive Bitch Slapping

The Widening Wage Gap Between Male and Female Managers Is a Corporate Equivalent of the Cultural Backlash

Maloney and Dingell are planning to commission 10 more precisely targeted studies from the GAO. That's the only way to pin down the wage gap in the communications and entertainment industries. Last month's report from the Directors Guild of America offers a rare glimpse into the inequities of Hollywood. It showed that only 11 percent of the episodes in last season's top 40 TV shows were directed by women. But no one knows what goes on in the front offices of movie studios and record companies. The Motion Picture Association of America declined to comment on the GAO report, and the Recording Industry Association of America didn't return several phone calls. No doubt they were busy gussying up for the Grammys, where last year's bitch slappers are likely to be waving flags.

Not that pop culture produced this salary gap, any more than it causes crime. But there's a relationship between erotic fantasy and social reality. The sexy backlash messages that bombarded us throughout the '90s helped to create a climate in which women were less likely to focus on their economic interests than on meeting the expectations of alpha males. The war makes it even less likely that women will demand a fair share of wealth rather than concentrating on the studly qualities of soldiers and firemen. All this serves to keep the glass ceiling intact.

The media didn't just make the backlash, they lived it. And so have we all.

illustration: Brad Hamann

Research: Stephen Desroches, Adrian Leung

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