Women made up 20% of those working in key behind-the-scenes roles on the top 700 domestic films of 2014, according to “Women and the Big Picture,” a new study authored by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. On the 15% of films directed or co-directed by women, however, the number of female writers, editors, and cinematographers increased by up to six times.
As Lauzen notes, “the findings suggest that women directors, executive producers, and producers may serve an important gateway function in the employment of other women in key behind-the-scenes roles.”
As efforts to combat gender inequality in Hollywood gain steam—Jennifer Lawrence publicizing the wage gap; Geena Davis and Meryl Streep inveighing against the dearth of roles for women in front of and the behind the camera; the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigating gender discrimination in hiring practices—Lauzen’s findings make clear that there’s a long way still to go. A few of the most striking data points:
– 85% of the films studied had no female directors, 80% had no female writers, and fully 92% had no female cinematographers.
– Overall, women fared best as producers (27%) and executive producers (21%); it’s on the creative side that women’s opportunities lag furthest behind.
– On films with at least one-third female producers/executive producers, the number of female writers, editors, directors, and cinematographers more than doubled.
“[H]iring decisions for these roles,” Lauzen explained, “may be most susceptible to mainstream film industry biases and expectations about what directors and cinematographers should look like demographically.”