The Sony Hack, Gender Pay Gap and the Agents' Role

01/30/2015 03:37 pm ET Updated Apr 01, 2015
Charlize Theron speaks on stage at Sean Penn And Friends "Help Haiti Home" Gala - Show at the Monta
Charlize Theron speaks on stage at Sean Penn And Friends "Help Haiti Home" Gala - Show at the Montage Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

Congrats to Charlize Theron for reportedly negotiating an equal paycheck to her male co-star, Chris Hemsworth, for The Huntsman. According to some reports, Ms. Theron used the Sony Hack to help negotiate the equal deal.

True, knowing what others are being paid helps women achieve equal pay. Prior to the Sony Hack, the actress previously did not have the knowledge, but her agent and/or manager must have had an educated estimate. Knowledge is power in such situations, which is why actors and actresses have managers and agents to negotiate deals. These professionals have the inside scoop because they know their other clients' deals and the other deals done by their agency. How is it that these same agents are able to get better deals when they are representing men?

Are these agents so misogynistic that they are steering their own female clients wrong and losing money in the process? Are these agents turning a blind eye in fear that another actress will take the gig for less? Could it be so malicious that agents are in collusion with the production companies and getting some kind of kickback? I highly doubt it's the latter, but based on this Sony Hack, agents are not doing their jobs for actresses. Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams would probably agree.

Regardless the reason for the bad representation, every actress can probably save ten percent in agent fees by negotiating her own deals. Based on what we recently have learned, actresses can't do much worse than their agents. Agents, who are supposed to be good counsel, agents, who are supposed to have clients' backs, should get their acts in gear and start negotiating for their female clients, just as they do for their male clients.

Now, if women with agents are getting such bad deals compared to their male colleagues, what are the average workingwomen to expect? Hopefully, the average workingwomen will know it is not their fault that they are underpaid compared to men. Heck, if the professional agents aren't making it happen, then it is an uphill battle. Still, there are things women can do to help close the gender pay gap. Women should expect the first offer is less than what the men earn. Women should answer: "What the job is worth?" the next time they're asked. Also, "What are you looking to make?"

Women should become informed consumers about what the job is worth by using sites like: Salary.com or Payscale.com. Most importantly, women who hire people should do their best to ensure that they are not continuing the problem.