In December, E! News host Catt Sadler walked away from her dream job of more than 10 years after she learned her male co-host reportedly earned twice as much money as she did. The discovery, Sadler told People, left her “in shock.”
“It’s almost insulting because you know you work really hard,” she said. “I’m a single mom of two kids. I’ve given my all to this network. I’ve sacrificed time away from my family and I have dedicated my entire career to this network. And when you learn something like that, it makes you feel very small and underappreciated and undervalued. It’s heartbreaking.”
Sadler’s departure from E! is a loss that Will & Grace star Debra Messing couldn’t help but point out during her own interview last night on the Golden Globes red carpet with E!’s Giuliana Rancic. Messing told Rancic that she wanted “to thank and honor all of the brave whistleblowers who came forward and shared their stores of harassment and assault and discrimination.”
Making a reference to the newly launched initiative Time’s Up, which aims to address systemic gender inequality, Messing added, “Time is up and we want diversity and we want intersectional gender parity. We want equal pay, and I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn’t believe in paying their female co-hosts the same as male co-hosts. I mean, I miss Catt Sadler, and so we stand with her, and that’s something that can change tomorrow. We want people to start having the conversations that women are just as valuable as men.”
During separate red carpet interviews, Eva Longoria, Reese Witherspoon, and Sarah Jessica Parker also shouted out Sadler for standing for pay equity. Longoria told Ryan Seacrest: “We’re also here for Time’s Up, we support gender equality and equal pay and we hope that E! follows that lead and we stand with Catt.”
In a post on her personal website last month, Sadler called her work with E! “unpredictable, intoxicating, rewarding and hard work.” When it came time for her to renew her contract late last year, she pushed back on compensation after learning her co-host and friend Jason Kennedy allegedly made almost twice her salary, despite handling many of the same duties and starting around the same time.
“Information is power. Or it should be,” Sadler wrote. “We are living in a new era. The gender pay gap is shrinking, although admittedly we have a long way to go. And well, I learned this first hand. My team and I asked for what I know I deserve and were denied repeatedly.”
In a statement to People, an E! spokesperson insisted that “E! compensates employees fairly and appropriately based on their roles, regardless of gender.”
Melissa Josephs is the director of equal opportunity policy at Women Employed. She tells Broadly that the attention many actresses brought to the gender wage gap was “a good first step,” adding that “it was so good to hear something about the red carpet besides who [women] are wearing.”
Beyond those who spoke up for Sadler, Josephs also points out that several advocates who attended the Golden Globes alongside celebrities work every day to address pay inequality. “Amy Poehler was with Saru Jayaraman with ROC (Restaurant Opportunities Centers) United. Certainly, they’re working on trying to eliminate sexual harassment in the restaurant industry, but they’re also working to end the subminimum wage system [in which servers make less than minimum wage because they also collect tips].” Restaurant workers who rely on tips often have to put up with sexual harassment, she explains, and ROC’s One Fair Wage campaign aims to help people make a fair base wage.
"How can we make it better for the next generation of girls if we do not stand for what is fair and just today?”
“It’s all industries,” she says. “It’s not just celebrities, and even Oprah said [in her speech last night], it’s farm workers, it’s domestic workers, it’s restaurant workers, and retail workers. In all industries, women get paid less than men, so whether it’s a lower wage industry, such as teaching or daycare, if men are in it, they still get more. Or higher wage jobs: While women might make more as actresses or doctors, they’re still getting paid less than men. And until the laws that are in place are better enforced—so [that requires] people speaking up—[the wage gap] is going to perpetuate.”
Sadler, in her personal post, concluded by talking about how she felt “an obligation to be an agent for change.”
“Countless brave women have come forward this year to speak their truth,” she wrote. “Females refuse to remain silent on issues that matter most because without our voices, how will we invoke lasting change? How can we make it better for the next generation of girls if we do not stand for what is fair and just today?”