As calls for pay equity mount, a panel discussion and town hall meeting is being planned “to confront the longstanding practices of gender pay discrimination in Hollywood.” The Pay Equity Summit, to be held September 29 at the Animation Guild in Burbank, follows the formation the #ReelEquity coalition, which is calling on Hollywood “to end outdated and unfair compensation practices and make meaningful changes within the industry.”

Organized by Women in Media and IATSE Script Supervisors Local 871, the summit will feature a statement from Lilly Ledbetter, the modern-day equal-pay icon who has joined more than 3,500 industry figures – including Ava DuVernay, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomin, Rosanna Arquette, Don Cheadle and Mandy Moore – in signing an open letter of support for the Reel Equity campaign.

Ledbetter’s statement will be read at the summit by director Rachel Feldman, who’s working on a film about her. Ledbetter’s fight for pay equality for women is enshrined in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

The summit will include speakers and panelists from Women in Media, IATSE Local 871, the Animation Guild (IATSE Local 839), and IATSE Costumer Designers Guild Local 892, all of which have been active in seeking pay equity for women who work in Hollywood’s historically female-dominated crafts.

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“We encourage craftspeople above and below the line and of all genders to join us for a day of camaraderie, solidarity, partnership and discussion,” said Women in Media executive director Tema L. Staig. “There is a lot to say, and the time for meaningful change is now.”

Said Local 871 business rep Leslie Simon: “I’m greatly looking forward to joining Women in Media and Reel Equity supporters at the Pay Equity Summit as we continue our campaign for change. Given the numbers of committed and high-profile women and men who have signed our petition to Hollywood, I expect the Pay Equity Summit to be another bellwether.” 

Despite the passage of California’s Fair Pay Act in 2016, which requires that women in the state must not be paid less than men when performing “substantially similar work,” a study commissioned by Local 871 and prepared by the Washington, D.C.-based firm Working Ideal found a substantial gender pay gap in many below-the-line crafts. The report, titled “Script Girls, Secretaries and Stereotypes: Gender Bias in Pay on Film and Television Crews,” identified gender stereotyping, job segregation and sexual harassment as “significant factors contributing to lower pay for these female-dominated below-the-line positions compared with traditionally male roles on the crew.”

The studio also found that more than 52% of the women surveyed had witnessed or experienced sexual harassment in the past three years.

In addition to Staig and Simon, speakers at the summit will include:

·        Melissa Goodman, the ACLU of Southern California’s director of advocacy/legal director

·        Marisa Shipley, chair of Reel Equity, art department coordinator, Local 871

·        Lalida Sujjavasin, production coordinator, Local 871

·        Chilly Nathan, Set Decorator Steering Committee, IATSE Prop Local 44

·        Elisa Phillips, Color Stylist Committee, IATSE Local 839

·        Betty Madden, Costume Designer, IATSE Local 892

·        Yolanda Cochran, Producers Guild board member and production executive at the Disney ABC Television Group

The summit, which runs 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., comes in advance of a three-day symposium spotlighting female contributions in the field of animation that will explore solutions to sexual harassment, bias and the lack of diversity in the industry. That symposium will be held the following weekend at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. The event, called “Breaking the Glass Frame: Women in Animation, Past, Present, Future,” is being organized by Women in Animation, USC, UCLA and CalArts.