The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the country’s population to be around 50.8 percent female, as of 2017. Reflective of this statistic, women accounted for half of all moviegoers in 2017, according to report by the Motion Picture Association of America.
The teams behind the films being seen by audiences across the U.S., however, are often far from diverse. Although the country has made some strides toward gender equality over the past century, women and men still do not have an equal footing in many workplaces.
The film industry, like many others, is male-dominated, with the men working behind the scenes on the films outnumbering women at a ratio of five to one, as stated in a report by the New York Film Academy. Often in film, it’s men that are the ones hired and promoted to key roles – roles such as director, writer, producer, editor or cinematographer.
Only 1 percent of top grossing films employed 10 or more women in key behind-the-scenes roles, in comparison to 70 percent of the films hiring 10 or more men in the same roles, according to the “The Celluloid Ceiling” report by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.
Even among the films with the largest budget and the highest box office ratings, a lack of women in high-power positions among the crew is still a problem regularly encountered in the hiring process.
Among the content creators, of key behind-the-scenes roles, on the top 100 films of 2017, only 7.3 percent of directors, 10.1 percent of writers and 18.2 percent of producers were female, according to a report by USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
This gender disparity is prevalent across many entertainment mediums, including television.
The 2018 “Boxed In” report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film states that, as of 2017, women have accounted for only 27 percent of all directors, producers, writers, executive producers, editors and directors of photography working on broadcast network, cable and streaming programs.
At an increased disadvantage when it comes to hiring in television and film production are women of color, who, in particular, encounter racial prejudices in addition to gender discrimination.
Of the top 100 films of 2017, 43 films failed to included any Black or African American females, 65 failed to include Asian or Asian American females, and 64 failed to included Hispanic females, versus the seven did not include white women, according to USC Annenberg.
This absence is significant because the mere presence of women creators in film and television production has the ability to create an opportunity for tremendous diversity in each project as a whole.
According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, programs that employ at least one woman creator have a substantially greater percentage of women in other key behind-the-scenes roles and more major female characters than programs with exclusively male creators. Based on this, it can be inferred that boosting one woman to an authoritative position in film production can result in a chain of inclusionary hiring practices, altering the final product.
Today, in an effort to overcome the gender inequality in film and television and other forms of media, women continue to enter the industry with the hopes of bringing some diversity the casts and crews of top films and television programs and, in turn, the films and programs will more accurately represent the audiences to whom their stories are intended to be told.