Iceland makes pay inequity illegal

2018 started off with a major change in Iceland.

According to ELLE, Iceland made it illegal to pay women less than men as of Jan. 1, 2018, becoming the first country in the world to “make equal pay the law.” As for the specifics of the law, ELLE reports that it mandates “companies that employ more than 25 people are obliged to obtain a government certificate showing their pay equality policies,” and if they don’t, they will be hit with a fine.

The move to create a more level playing field in the country follows their 2017 announcement of the legislation on International Women’s Day, says ELLE, following through on the year-old promise and asserting their position as a worldwide leader in gender equality.

But their efforts to create a more gender-equal society don’t end there: ELLE says the law is part of an effort to close the gender pay gap completely by 2022.

Former Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson perhaps put it best at the Global Leaders’ Meeting in 2015 when he said, “Men cannot sit idly by when issues such as gender-based violence and the gender pay gap are being discussed. These are not only women’s issues. These are issues of general human rights.”

Student film flips gender roles

Sometimes, it takes the youngest among us to see the world from a different perspective.

Just ask Ella Fields, a 14-year-old filmmaker who HuffPost says created a film on gender roles last year as a student of the Cinematic Arts Academy at Millikan Middle School in Los Angeles. Tasked with creating a film focused on something she was passionate about, Fields immediately landed on gender stereotypes, she told HuffPost.

“One of the first things that popped into my head was gender stereotypes, and how I truly believe that anyone can wear whatever they want, and how colors should not have any gender associated with them,” she said. “They are just colors.”

Fields channeled this sentiment into her film, “Stereo,” which HuffPost says reverses gender roles and imagines a world where “boys are the only ones who are supposed to wear dresses and girls are forbidden from participating in musical theater, both things the female protagonist yearns to do.”

In reflecting on her work, Fields told HuffPost that her main goal for the film was to “raise awareness of how stereotypes are meaningless.” And with her film being viewed over 1.6 million times, she did just that.

Watch Fields’ film here.

King offers insight on gender wage gap

You can’t begin to address the problem when you don’t have all of the facts — and in a recent interview, Billie Jean King made sure all the facts were available on the gender wage gap.

According to HuffPost, the tennis phenom sat for an interview alongside Emma Stone — who will play King in the forthcoming film, “Battle of the Sexes” — for Out Magazine, where the duo discussed the gender wage gap, among other topics. Stone, who brought up the issue, not only mentioned that women are “at our best right now making 80 cents to the dollar,” HuffPost says she also discussed pay inequality in relation to Hollywood.

Describing it as a function of “the kinds of films you’re a part of, the size of your role, how much the movies make at the box office,” HuffPost says Stone concluded women “in general, are making four fifths at best.”

King, however, elaborated on the asterisk on that statement that so often goes unnoticed: differences in pay based on ethnicity.

“If you’re African American or Hispanic it goes down,” King said, according to HuffPost, “and then Asian Americans make 90 cents to the dollar.”

Thanks to King, we can see that pay inequality isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue; it is, as many things are, much more complex.

According to a 2016 Pew Research study, while white women make 82 percent of what white men earn, black women only earn 65 percent of that. Hispanic women fare much worse, taking home 58 percent of a white man’s earnings. Asian women come the closest to pay parity, earning 87 percent as much as white men.

Hopefully, understanding the breadth and depth of the issue will help us take steps to address the problem for all women.

Talent beyond boundaries

Talent knows no boundaries, so why should awards for outstanding acting performances be confined to specific gender identities? That’s the question that Asia Kate Dillon posed in a recent letter to the Television Academy.

According to Women in the World, Dillon — the non-binary star of the Showtime hit series, “Billions” — wrote a letter to the Television Academy after network executives, wanting to submit their performance for Emmy award consideration, asked which category they wanted to be included in.

That’s when Dillon composed a letter to the Academy, says Women in the World, asking “whether the terms ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ were meant to ‘denote anatomy or identity.'”

“The reason I’m hoping to engage you in a conversation about this is because if the categories of ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ are in fact supposed to represent ‘best performance by a person who identifies as a woman’ and ‘best performance by a person who identifies as a man’ then there is no room for my identity within that award system binary,” Dillon wrote, according to Women in the World. “Furthermore, if the categories of ‘actor’ and ‘actress’ are meant to denote assigned sex I ask, respectfully, why is that necessary?”

The response from the Academy offered that their guidelines allow for anyone to submit their work to any category, and that’s exactly what Dillon did, says Women in the World, choosing to enter the category of ‘best actor’ — a term Dillon found to have a non-gendered history dating back to the 1500s.

Here’s hoping Dillon’s actions are the first of many more inclusive moves to come.

Portman imparts pay gap wisdom

The gender pay gap has certainly impacted the women of Hollywood: from Jennifer Lawrence and Hilary Swank to Robin Wright and Emmy Rossum, both film and television actresses alike have often been paid much less than their male co-stars. But that’s not stopping them from speaking out on the issue to incite change.

According to the Huffington Post, Natalie Portman is the latest to discuss a moment in her career when she was paid less than what she now realizes she deserved. In the Jackie star’s interview with Marie Claire UKthe Huffington Post says Portman shared that for their film No Strings Attached, her co-star Ashton Kutcher earned “three times as much” than her for their work on the film, which was released the same year she won an Oscar for her role in Black Swan (2011).

“‘I knew and I went along with it because there’s this thing with ‘quotes’ in Hollywood,’ she said in the magazine’s February cover story. ‘Your quote is the highest you’ve ever been paid. His quote was three times higher than mine so they said he should get paid three times more.'”

Looking back, however, HuffPost says Portman shared, “I wasn’t as pissed as I should have been! I mean, we get paid a lot, so it’s hard to complain. But the disparity is crazy.”

Also noting that “in Hollywood we are making 30 cents to the dollar,” Portman said that the pay disparity also indicates a lack of opportunity for women, according to HuffPost.

“We just have a clear issue with women not having opportunities,” she said. “We need to be part of the solution, not perpetuating the problem.”

Obama tackles discrimination

When a group of female students visited the White House for a screening of the new movie Hidden FiguresMichelle Obama took a moment to acknowledge how “ridiculous” gender and racial discrimination are.

At the event, which centered around STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, The Cut reports that the outgoing first lady “spoke of the adversity she faced while on the campaign trail. ‘We were supposed to be hidden. People didn’t even want to believe we were real. But here we are,’ she said.”

Speaking from her own experience while also referencing Hidden Figures — which “tells the true story of three black women whose brilliant work as NASA mathematicians went largely unrecognized, according to The Cut — Obama continued to impart her words of wisdom to the students in attendance.

“Skin color, gender, is the most ridiculous defining trait that we cling to. It doesn’t matter,” she said, according to The Cut. “What matters is you believe in your own potential. Because people will try to tear you down, I guarantee you that. There will never be a point when people will 100 percent be cheering you on.”

Thank you, Mrs. Obama, for cheering on these students — and students all around the country.