Sexism in Hollywood: Position of Women Worse

Despite the heated debate about gender disparity, the position of women in the Hollywood industry has gotten worse.


Women Directors

Women made up only 7 percent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic releases in 2016, a decline of 2 percent from their share in 2015 and in 1998.

The findings are based on a new report from the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film at San Diego State University.

The results are shocking because they come after fierce debate about the lack of opportunities for women and minorities to rise up through the studio system.

Major stars–Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Elizabeth Banks, Jessica Chastain–have publicly decried the lack of pay equity for women and the dearth of female filmmakers.

Martha Lauzen, executive director of the center and the study’s author said: “With all the attention and talk over the last couple of years in the film industry, the numbers actually declined. Clearly the current remedies aren’t working.”

But there have been no remedies.

The picture wasn’t much brighter for women in other behind-the-camera professions.

Women Producers

Women accounted for 24 percent of all producers working on the top 250 films of 2016, a 2 percent decline from 2015.

They made up 17 percent of all editors, a decrease of five percentage points.

Some 4 percent of sound designers were women, a drop of a point.

They comprised 5 percent of all cinematographers, a slide of one percentage point from the previous year.

34 percent of the films had no female producers

79 percent lacked a female editor

97 percent had no female sound designers

96 percent didn’t have a female cinematographer.

Better Position in Documentaries

Women had stronger presence in documentaries and dramas, and were least likely to be employed on action films and horror films.

They did see gains in the composer and supervising sound editor positions, where they made up 3 percent of composers and 8 percent of senior sound editors.

Women accounted for 13 percent of writers, an increase of 2 percent from 2015, but the same figure from 1998.

There were fewer high-profile projects that were overseen by women than in past years.

In 2015, women like Elizabeth Banks and Sam Taylor-Johnson directed “Pitch Perfect 2” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” respectively, two of the year’s bigger hits.

Last year, Jodie Foster (“Money Monster”) and Patricia Riggen (“Miracles From Heaven”) were two of the more prominent female directors in 2016, while Andrea Arnold (“American Honey”) and Ava DuVernay (“The 13th”) made critical favorites.

This year–2017–promises to be more diverse, in terms of top-grossing pictures. Among the high-profile releases are Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman,” Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled,” and Trish Sie’s “Pitch Perfect 3.”

And companies like Lucasfilm and Marvel have said that they are committed to finding female directors for upcoming releases.

The study shows the importance of giving women opportunities to helm.  Film with women directors employ higher percentages of female writers, editors, cinematographers, and composers than films with men behind the camera.

Women made up 64 percent of writers on films from female directors, 43 percent of editors, and 16 percent of cinematographers.

On films with exclusively male directors, women accounted for 9 percent of writers, 17 percent of editors, and 6 percent of cinematographers.

Lauzen holds that an outside action may be required: “The industry has shown little real will to change in a substantive way.  For real change to occur, we may need some intervention by an outside source.”