What All Women Can Learn From Gal Gadot’s ‘Wonder Woman’ Salary

June 21st 2017

A mostly unconfirmed story from Elle recently turned into an indictment on the pay gap between men and women. It claimed that "Man of Steel" star Henry Cavill made $14 million for his first starring role as Superman, while his DC counterpart Gal Gadot made just $300,000 for her first star turn in the 2017 hit "Wonder Woman."

While Hollywood accounting is notoriously tricky (as of 2011, "Return of the Jedi" reportedly still hadn't turned a profit), and women in the film industry are still underpaid compared to men in terms of both salaries and bonuses, the sheer size of the gap didn't make sense to industry insiders.

The Hollywood Reporter ran down a source familiar with DC's accounting, who revealed that Gadot and Cavill likely made about the same base salary for their films, with Cavill eventually making a substantial amount on the 2013 film from bonuses, getting a percentage of the film's profit, and negotiating a higher salary for the upcoming sequel.

And it's there that regular, non-superhero people can learn a lesson from the Gadot and Cavill: the power of negotiating when you've got the upper hand.

According to Vanity Fair, neither "Wonder Woman" star Gadot nor Patty Jenkins, the film's director, have signed their deals for the inevitable sequel, and both are expected to bargain for much more money. Assuming they do, they'll join the small percentage of women who negotiate their pay, a percentage lower than men, and one that's persisting even among younger women.

A 2003 Carnegie Mellon study found a staggering 50 percent difference between newly graduated men and women with MBA's who negotiated their first salary, with just 7 percent of women trying to bargain for a higher rate of pay. Those numbers seem to have narrowed over the last decade, with the Washington Post reporting on a 2016 study where "42 percent of men ...18 to 24, reported asking for more money, compared to just 26 percent of their female peers."

Those numbers closed even more as workers got older, with the gender gap for workers ages 35 to 44 at just 9 percent.

Beyond that, a study cited on revealed that just 30 percent of women make it a practice to negotiate every time they change jobs, with 46 percent of men doing it.

And more women are apprehensive about negotiating when they do, even though both genders tend to be about as successful when they make the effort.

The importance of salary negotiation is well established, particularly because having a higher base number means bigger raises and bonuses down the line, and higher salaries at subsequent jobs. But it's especially important for women, because, as HuffPost put it, "when women negotiate salary, the pay gap shrinks."

Harvard Business Review cautions that "women are often perceived as greedy and demanding when trying to negotiate — an attribute rarely ascribed to men" and might need to frame their discussions differently. The publication suggests women see salary negotiation as a problem-solving exercise involving give-and-take, as opposed to a winner-take-all battle, which many men approach it as.

In Gadot's case, she has a strong hand to work from. "Wonder Woman" is a cultural phenomenon, the biggest hit in the DC Comics universe, and is on track to outgross "Man of Steel." While Cavill's rumored salary of $14 million couldn't be confirmed, it's reasonable that Gadot could cross that margin at some point, doing her part to close the pay gap for women in general.

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