Many people know actor Mila Kunis for her role in the TV series “That ’70s Show” and her film roles in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the drama Black Swan. Kunis has recently been in the headlines for her open letter on sexism in Hollywood and the workplace entitled, “You’ll Never Work in This Town Again…” originally posted here.
In the letter, Kunis discusses some of her personal experiences, including being told by a producer that she would never work in Hollywood again after she refused to pose semi-naked on the cover of a men’s magazine to promote a film. Kunis explained that she felt objectified and that the threat that her career would suffer because of her refusal embodied the fear that many women face with gender bias in the workplace. She explained her view about how many women feel–that if they speak up against gender bias, their livelihoods will be threatened. Because of her career success and financial ability, Kunis explained she is fortunate to be in a position where she can stand up against gender bias and bring it to light when she experiences it, but recognized that many women may not be able to do so.
The letter also discusses the fact that a pay gap still exists between women and men. In Kunis’ view, this is one of the ways women’s contributions are undervalued in the workplace. She also highlighted that subtle gender bias can be imperceptible or undetectable to those who share the bias and that women may face “microaggressions” that devalue their contributions at work. For example, Kunis cited a time when a big producer referred to her as “[o]ne of the biggest actors in Hollywood and soon to be Ashton’s wife and baby momma!!!” Kunis wrote that describing her in relationship to a successful man and her ability to bear children reduced her value and ignored her contributions.
It’s important to recognize blind biases that may occur in the workplace, just as employers also must recognize overt sexual harassment or sexism. As Kunis highlights in her letter, however, many people may be unaware of their blind biases and it’s important to address them and educate people on their biases. If employers don’t adapt and address sexist microaggressions, they risk losing talented women in the workplace. As Kunis concludes her letter, “I will work in this town again, but I will not work with you.”