In a panel discussion at BuzzFeed's office, Oscar-winner Meryl Streep told "The Post" director Steven Spielberg and co-star Tom Hanks that settlements like those paid to Harvey Weinstein's accusers would not have been necessary if more women held positions of power.
"If the boards of the company were half female, there wouldn't ever have been payoffs to anybody," Streep said. "None of this — the shenanigans wouldn't have occurred."
In October, the New York Times released a report detailing decades of payoffs to those who'd accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. According to the report, he reached at least eight settlements with women, paying each individual roughly $80,000 to $150,000. Most of the women who accepted settlements signed a confidentiality agreement that prevented them from speaking about the situation.
Other powerful men like late former Fox News CEO Roger E. Ailes and television journalist Bill O'Reilly also settled with their accusers. According to reports, women involved in cases against Ailes and O'Reilly were paid well into the millions.
Streep, who's worked with Weinstein on several films including "The Iron Lady" and "August: Osage County" told the Huffington Post that she was unaware of her colleague's actions. She said his "behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar."
To better address the ongoing wave of allegations, the 68-year-old says more company boards need to have gender equality.
"I think right now, there are a lot of opportunities in at the bottom, and then you get up to the middle level of management," she told the BuzzFeed audience. "But at the top level, the same rules generally adhere. [Women] are at 17 to 20 percent of the boards. That's pretty much anything, from the Senate to the Supreme Court to probably here."
At an event in Paris earlier this month, former also called for an increase in more women in leadership positions because he said "men seem to be having some problems these days."
"Not to generalize, but women seem to have a better capacity than men do, partly because of their socialization," Obama said.
Streep emphasized that the unequal power dynamics between men and women exist far beyond Hollywood and said it's everyone's responsibility to speak out.
"I think power tries to suppress the truth," she said. "In Hollywood, on Wall Street and in the news media as well. So everybody has to stay alert, awake and fight against it."
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