SDSU Study Finds Women Largely Underrepresented in Hollywood

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Patty Jenkins Greta Gerwig

Getty Images Patty Jenkins Greta Gerwig

Women made up just 18 percent of all the directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers who worked on the top 250 American films released past year, according to a new study. "This negligence has produced a toxic culture that supported the recent sexual harassment scandals and truncates so many women's careers".

Researcher Martha M. Lauzen's findings are jarring not just because roughly the same share of women were helping make movies in a year when "Wonder Woman" dominated screens as when "The Big Lebowski" came out. This year's study monitored 5,342 films.

Since October, the entertainment industry has been roiled by allegations of sexual misconduct by powerful men, including mogul Harvey Weinstein, film producer Brett Ratner, former Amazon Studios chief Roy Price and veteran TV broadcasters Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose.

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The 20th annual "Celluloid Ceiling" study on the behind-the-camera employment of women was released Monday by San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. She pointed to her research that found only 1% of films a year ago employed 10 or more women as directors, producers, editors, writers and cinematographers. Slightly less than 30 percent of films had no or just one woman in the aforementioned roles. In 1998, the same calculation of behind-the-scenes jobs for women was 17 percent.

Fewer and fewer women are found on set as we move up the ranks of the films. In the top 100 films, women also fared best as producers (24 percent), followed by executive producers (15 percent). The largest percentages of women were found working on documentaries, and action features showed the largest gender gap.

Additionally, the four percentage point rise in films directed by women in 2017 compared with 2016 was largely due to the low numbers registered that previous year.

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Women made up only 18 percent of all the directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers on 2017's top 250 films - a percentage that has remained nearly constant since the study began in 1998.

That rise, she said, is likely just part of "the normal ebb and flow", and it's too soon to tell whether the current climate will spur more hiring of women.

The toughest film occupation for women to land remains cinematographers. 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.

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