New Study Shows Another Disappointing Fact for Women in Hollywood

For actresses, paychecks become lower and roles more difficult to find.

sarah jessica parker

(Image credit: Getty)

While women have topped lists of highest paid actors in recent years, a new study published in the Journal of Management Inquiry found that after a certain age, female actresses' earnings begin to decline.

We already knew that roles were harder to find for women of a certain age in Hollywood. A Vulture story last year showed that while male leads from Denzel Washington to Tom Cruise increase in age, their female counterparts do not.

But this new study pinpointed another, less reported aspect: that the decline in available roles also means a decline in salary. While female actresses outearn their male counterparts in their 20's, they peak in their earnings at the young age of 34. According to this study, that analyzed 265 film actors and actresses who have starred in movies from 1968 to 2008, male actors peak in their earnings around age 51.

There are clearly some actresses for whom this study does not apply. Meryl Streep, who is 64-years-old, has starred in multiple movies in recent years, most recently August: Osage County, for which she earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Streep's co-star, Julia Roberts, who is 46-years-old, also earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination.

Stars including Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker topped Forbes' list of highest paid actresses, each earning a reported $30 million in 2013. The highest paid actor of 2013 was Robert Downey Jr., according to Forbes, who brought in an estimated $75 million in 2013. Channing Tatum followed, earning a reported $60 million in the past year. In fact, the top ten men featured on Forbes' 2013 highest paid actors list earned more than $30 million in 2013.