Shocker: Study Finds Female Directors Massively Underrepresented in Hollywood

     October 27, 2015


There has been a widespread conversation over the gender inequality in Hollywood. Jennifer Lawrence published a “Lenny Letter” essay about the wage gap between the sexes, her fellow actresses like Patricia Arquette and Viola Davis made the topic a cornerstone of their awards acceptance speeches, and a federal investigation into the industry to pinpoint civil rights violations is underway. Now, the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film released a new study that illustrates the glaring imbalance behind the camera.

The study, titled “Women and the Big Picture,” examined the top 700 movies of 2014 and their female presence (or lack there of) behind the scenes. The findings were broken down into three sections, the first of which reported the percentages of women in behind-the-scenes positions, like directors, writers, producers, editors, and cinematographers. The second broke down the relationships between the gender of directors compared to the genders of those of other important behind-the-scenes roles. The third finished by reporting the relationships between the gender of producers and executive producers compared to those working around them in a behind-the-scenes capacity.


Image via Universal Pictures

Here’s some of the unsettling information unearthed:

Women comprised 20% of those working in key behind-the-scenes roles on the top 700 theatrically released films in 2014. This figure is slightly higher than the 17% working on the top 250 films.


Last year, women accounted for 13% of directors on the top 700 films, almost twice the percentage working on the top 250 films.


Films with women directors employed substantially higher percentages of women in other key behind-the-scenes roles than films with exclusively male directors. For example, on films with female directors, women comprised 52% of writers. In contrast, on films with exclusively male directors, women accounted for just 8% of writers.

To give these numbers even more impact, the study noted that, out of all films in 2014, 85% had no female directors, 80% had no female writers, 78% had no female editors, and a most glaring 92% had no female cinematographers. If you have the time, I strongly suggest you check out the full study here. (Its findings are only four pages long, and there are graphs.)

Dr. Martha M. Lauzen is the author of this study. She told Variety, “We’re getting a lot of public dialogue about the issue as actors like Patricia Arquette and Meryl Streep speak up, but we haven’t seen that groundswell result in higher numbers.”


Image via Columbia Pictures


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