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Executive Director's Letter - 3/19/24

Women’s History Month has its roots in the first International Women's Day in 1911. In all these years since, we are still fighting for gender equality in pay, reproductive rights, self-determination, and against violence and prejudice. The effects of this inequality has the deepest impact on women of color. According to the Pew Research Center, the gender pay gap – the difference between the median earnings of men and women – has remained relatively flat in the United States over the past two decades. In 2022, U.S. women typically earned 82 cents for every dollar men earned. That was about the same as in 2002, when women earned 80 cents to the dollar.

One creative field that is publicly under fire for wage differences is the film industry. During the NAACP Image Awards, Oscar nominee Taraji P. Hensen used her platform to discuss Hollywood pay inequality, particularly as it affects Black women. Writers and producers all face the same challenges. And what about on screen? This disheartening report underscores how women are misrepresented by Hollywood and the stereotypic roles they continue to play in this male dominated industry. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is another great resource that examines intersectional onscreen representation of six identities: gender, race, LGBTQIA+, disability, age 50+, and body type.

The Bechdel Wallace Test called this into the public mind nearly 40 years ago. It states that for a given work of fiction to pass the test, the work must 1) have at least two women in it, who 2) talk to each other, about 3) something other than a man). The idea dates all the way back to Virginia Woolf and her 1929 essay A Room of One’s Own. “In her paper, Woolf states that in fiction, women are almost always shown ‘in their relation to men’ and not as independent human beings with their own feelings and struggles. In addition to that, the relationships between women are described as ‘too simple.’” (Freie Universität Berlin)

This Women’s History Month let’s keep equality in the forefront and remember that pay and the stories told in popular culture and art matter.

Have a beautiful day,


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