Source: Lincoln, Anne E., and Michael Patrick Allen. “Double Jeopardy in Hollywood: Age and Gender in the Careers of Film Actors, 1926?1999.” Sociol Forum Sociological Forum 19, no. 4 (2004): 611-31. Accessed November 15, 2016. doi:10.1007/s11206-004-0698-1
Michael Patrick Allen and Anne E. Lincoln explore how age affects men and women differently in the film industry. When film began to emerge as an industry, acting was the first high-income and high-status occupation to have gender integration because of demand for heterosexual romance. Now, women appear in far fewer lead roles and are paid about half as much as their male counterparts. However, Allen and Lincoln write that the idea of sex-differentiated markets where women have different career paths than men doesn’t apply to acting, so men and women are on equal ground in that sense. And yet the occupation does not provide equal pay.
Allen and Lincoln offer a brief history of how men and women are cast in films. In the 1930s and 1940s, women were cast in melodramatic films (“women’s films”) while men were cast in Westerns and adventure films. Then, women’s films decreased dramatically in the 1950s, and by the 1970s roles for women all but disappeared. This coincided with the arrival of buddy films in the 70s that focused on “macho exploits and homoerotic bonds.” A perfect example of a buddy film is the movie Jaws, which features three male leads (and a puppet shark).
While women were pushed out of the film industry by movie genres, they were also pushed out by age. In the last two decades, actors have become younger than ever before. But this still disproportionately affects women; Allen and Lincoln write that “women over age 40 received only 24 percent of all female roles cast in television and film, while men over age 40 received 37 percent of all male roles.” Furthermore, the word “older” describes male actors over 40 and female actors over 30. Society seems to reject the idea that it is natural for women to age; perhaps it is because society’s ideal role for women is motherhood, and older women do not typically bear children.