SDSU Study Finds Women Largely Underrepresented in Hollywood

Kenny Tucker
January 13, 2018

Women's struggles to win influential roles in the film industry have been well-documented - and extend far beyond the director's chair.

Women directors made up just 11 percent of directors a year ago, representing an increase of four percentage points from 2016, according to "The Celluloid Ceiling", an annual study sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

The results remained largely unchanged from years past, despite the widespread reckoning in Hollywood sparked by the October downfall of disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of sexual harassment and assault by scores of women.

Other statistics in the report are equally damning: In 2017, 1 percent of the top-grossing 250 films employed 10 or more women behind the scenes, while 70 percent employed 10 or more men.

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When looking at the percentage of individuals employed behind the scenes of 2017's top films - whether as directors, executive producers, cinematographers, writers or editors - women only made up 18%, increasing by just one point since 2016. "This negligence has produced a toxic culture that supported the recent sexual harassment scandals and truncates so many women's careers". It is also a safety issue for women who work on film sets.

In many ways, 2017 was the year of the woman in the film industry. On films with exclusively male directors, women accounted for 8 percent of writers. Lauzen's latest report, released Wednesday, offers more evidence that Hollywood has failed over the last two decades to correct its gender imbalance.

Eighty-eight percent of the top 250 domestic grossing films had no female director, while 83 percent had no female writers, and 96 percent had no women cinematographers. In the top 100 films, women also fared best as producers (24 percent), followed by executive producers (15 percent). They comprised 11 percent of all directors working on the top 250 films of 2017 ― an increase of 4 points from 2016 and even with the percentage in 2000. Female cinematographers only represented 2 percent of the top 100 films. In 1998, the same calculation of behind-the-scenes jobs for women was 17 percent. Just 4% of cinematographers on the top 250 films past year were women. However, the lack of female nominees, particularly in a year that included major acclaim for Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird, Dee Rees's Mudbound and Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman (the ninth top-grossing film of the year), was no laughing matter.

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