Glaring gender pay gap among superstars: Men earn more than their female counterparts

·2 min read
Indian Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar (R) speaks as actress Deepika Padukone looks on during a press conference in Ahmedabad on April 28, 2010. The two are starring in the film 'Housefull' together with Jiah Khan and Ritesh Deshmukh.  AFP PHOTO/Sam PANTHAKY (Photo credit should read SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images)
File photo of Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone

Indian women earn 19% less than men, as per World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index. India ranks a lowly 112th in the Global Gender Gap Index. Pay disparity between men and women is well-documented. But what about the people who are in the public eye? One would hope that inequality doesn’t exist at the superstar and celebrity levels. However, the gap at the top of the pile is even more glaring!

Bollywood minds the gap

Female superstars in Bollywood are paid much less than male movie stars, and it has been voiced by several leading ladies of the industry. Tapsee Pannu recently said that men who started at around the same time are now earning 3-5 times more than her. She also noted that women-centric movies are made on a lower budget, which keeps their remuneration low.

Pick any Bollywood rich list and you will have to scroll down quite a bit before you spot an actress. Top earner Akshay Kumar reportedly charges close to Rs 130 crores for a film. Reigning Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone, despite being one of the highest-paid actresses, is said to have charged Rs 15-20 crore per movie in recent years.

Kumar is the only Indian in the Forbes list of top 100 highest-paid celebrities.

Uneven contest in Mixed Doubles

Women sports superstars in India have also voiced the need for pay parity. After all, PV Sindhu’s Olympic silver was as significant as Rajyavardhan Rathore’s, one would argue. But if you look at the highest-earning sports stars in India, the top ten (released by Forbes last year) featured 9 male cricketers and P V Sindhu.

The good news is that Sindhu earns more than male shuttlers. As does Mary Kom, who is the only boxer on this list. The bad news is that it could be reflective of the poor financial backing to sports in India, other than cricket.

Worse still is that women cricketers earn nowhere near as much as the men in blue do! In cricket, which is supposed to be the richest sport in India, we saw women stars like Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur earn Rs 2-3 crores, multiple times lesser than the likes of Dhoni and Kohli.

Pay disparity is prevalent in all segments, and even internationally. The fact that it is being voiced more frequently now can be seen as a positive sign.

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