Unless you're Meryl Streep, actresses over the age of 34 are pretty much screwed when it comes to earning power.
Although it's no secret that Hollywood favors the young and beautiful, new research illustrates just how hard it is for older women to sustain a career in the movie biz. According to a recent study from the Journal Of Management Inquiry, on average Hollywood actresses are paid less as they get older, while their male peers can enjoy steady (and large) paychecks well into old age.
Researchers examined the top 265 earning actresses and actors in Hollywood films from 1968 to 2008. While a female movie star's average salary per film steadily increases in her 20s, this number drops off rapidly after she turns 34. Male actors' compensation however, peaks around age 51 and shows no signs of decreasing with age. According to the study, "Men's well-worn faces are thought to convey maturity, character and experience. A woman's face, on the other hand, is valued for appearing young."
Hollywood doesn't allow women to age, which encourages the idea that growing older is not acceptable -- even though it is inevitable (and beautiful). One of our favorite leading ladies, Sarah Jessica Parker, commented on the limited roles for female movie stars in a very prescient 1995 interview: "Actresses are like football players. They have a small window of prime earning ability."
While income may drop off at a certain age for women, talent certainly does not, as is abundantly clear when we look at heavy hitters such as Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton. It's time for aging to become a good thing because, well, it happens to all of us.
[h/t USA Today]