Meryl Streep has a plan for taking down sexism in Hollywood.
“Right now, I’m getting together with a bunch of actresses that you know very well, and we’re all sort of going to make a set of non-negotiable demands,” Streep told the crowd at the Massachusetts Conference for Women on Thursday. “We’re after 50/50 by 2020.”
In conversation with feminist icon Gloria Steinem at the event, the multiple Oscar winner went on to speak about Harvey Weinstein, with whom she’s worked with numerous times, and has become a frequent topic of conversation at her house.
“The thing abound Harvey Weinstein is that he is sort of the most gargantuan example of a kind of disrespect that permeates every industry, every enterprise,” Streep said. “I’m not sure why. I have a lot of theories — maybe its in response to the women’s movement. Maybe its in fear of the women movement. But these abuses are about dominance.”
Streep continues to find lead roles in Hollywood in her middle age (she leads Steven Spielberg’s upcoming drama The Post opposite Tom Hanks), but said she doesn’t “have a big choice” when it comes to projects because “there aren’t a lot of things for 68-year-old women that come around.”
While she’s frustrated at the current state of Hollywood, Streep sustains that she’s optimistic for the future.
“I think I’m very hopeful that the world is changing. I think in this world now of opportunity there’s so many great opportunities for women to enter different jobs, different enterprises,” she said. “But to rise, to get up to that top layer which they kinda still keep for themselves. There are always three women on a board, and then there are 9 or 12 or 14 other people. Equal means equal. And if it starts at the top, none of these shenanigans would have filtered down and been tolerated.”
Streep continued, “Part of the problem is that there’s no horrible plot at the top of Hollywood not to keep people of color or women out of leadership positions. It’s that ‘like hires like.’ White hires white. A guy who wears his baseball cap backwards hires a guy who wears his baseball cap backwards. So we have to encourage the people who are currently in power, who are of one gender, to open the door.”
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In addition to one son, Meryl has three daughters, all of whom entered show business. And subsequently, each of them have encountered sexism in Hollywood, she said.
“I have three actresses,” she said. “I’m very proud of them, but it is tricky. Our business… and they’ve encountered it in just tangential ways. These challenges that are endemic in our industry, and it’s gonna fixed. It’s gonna get all cleaned up.”
Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 50 women since The New York Times and The New Yorker documented decades of alleged sexual misconduct and sexual assault involving a number of women in detailed articles in October.
In a recent statement to PEOPLE, Weinstein’s attorneys, Berk and Brafman, said: “Mr. Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behavior or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct. There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred.
“Nonetheless, to those offended by Mr. Weinstein’s behavior, he remains deeply apologetic.”