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Study: Women Directors’ Ranks Increased in 2015, But Only to 1998 Rates

Study: Women Directors' Ranks Increased in 2015, But Only to 1998 Rates

Female filmmakers enjoyed a slight bump last year in their representation in the film industry, with women directors and those in other key roles (writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers) benefitting from a 2% increase among the top 250 movies. 

Still, the employment numbers are nowhere where they should be. In 2015, women made up just 9% of directors — which is up from dismal the 7% figure in 2014, but at the same level they accounted for all the way back in 1998. Put another way, 9 out of 10 films in 2015 were directed by men. 

Looking at key roles, women made up 19% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers among the top 250 films. The breakdown is as follows: Female filmmakers accounted for 11% of
writers, 20% of executive producers, 26% of producers, 22% of editors and 6%
of cinematographers. Overall, this represents a 2% increase from 2014, but we were at this level back in 2001, which means very little has changed for women since the dawn of the Willennium. 

Dr. Martha Lauzen, who has been crunching the numbers for the Celluloid Ceiling reports for nearly two decades at the Center for the Study of Women in Television and
Film at San Diego State University, summed up her study this way: “The numbers for
2015 indicate little change in women’s behind-the-scenes employment. The celluloid ceiling remains a reality for
women working in this community,”

The study’s press release did note one potential solution to Hollywood’s institutional sexism: hiring women directors creates more jobs for other women: "The analysis of the top 500 films reveals
that features with at least one woman director employ higher percentages of
women writers, editors, and cinematographers than films with exclusively male
directors. For example, on films with
female directors, women comprised 53% of writers. On films with male directors, women accounted
for 10% of writers."

Added Lauzen,
“When women are in a gateway role,
such as director, they may open the door to opportunities for other women.” 

Here is the latest data from the Celluloid Ceiling report, with data from the last year’s top 250, top 100 and top 500 films. 

Data for the Top 250 Films of 2015 (for frame of reference, the #248, #249 and #250 movies of 2015 as of January 16, 2016, were the documentaries "Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution," "Deli Man" and "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine"): 

–Women comprised 19% of all directors, writers,
producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the
top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents an increase of 2 percentage
points from last year and is even with the percentage achieved in 2001.

–Women fared best as producers (26%), followed by editors (22%), executive
producers (20%), writers (11%), directors (9%), and cinematographers (6%). 

–Last
year, fully one-third or 33%
of films employed 0 or 1
woman in the roles considered. … In contrast, 1% of films employed 0 or 1 man
in the roles considered.

–Women comprised 9% of all directors working on
the top 250 films of 2015. This represents
an increase of 2 percentage points from 2014 and is even with the
figure for 1998. 

–Women accounted for 11% of writers working on
the top 250 films of 2015. This represents no change from 2014 and a decrease
of 2 percentage points from 1998.
 
–Women comprised 20% of all executive producers
working on the top 250 films of 2015. This represents an increase of 1
percentage point from 2014 and an increase of 2 percentage points from 1998. 

–Women accounted for 26% of all producers working
on the top 250 films
of 2015. This represents an increase of 3 percentage points from 2014 and an increase
of 2 percentage points from 1998. 

 –Women comprised 22% of all editors working on
the top 250 films of 2015. This represents an increase of 4 percentage points
from 2014 and an increase of 2 percentage points from 1998. 

 –Women accounted for 6% of all cinematographers
working on the top 250 films of 2015. This represents an increase of 1
percentage point from 2014 and 2 percentage points from 1998. 

–Women were most likely to work in the documentary and comedy
genres
, accounting for 36% and 34% of individuals working on these films in
these films respectively. Women were least likely to work in the action and
horror genres
, accounting for 9% and 11% of those working on these films
respectively.

    
Data for the Top 100 Films of 2015 (for frame of reference, the #98, #99 and #100 movies of 2015 as of January 16, 2016, were the films "Project Almanac," "Black or White," "Aloha"): 

–Overall,
women accounted for 16% of all directors, writers, executive producers,
producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 100 films.

–Women fared best as producers (22%), followed by
editors (20%), executive producers (18%), writers (11%), directors (7%), and
cinematographers (3%). 

–Women comprised 7% of directors working on the
top 100 films of 2015. 

–Women accounted for 11% of writers working on
the top 100 films of 2015. 

–Women comprised 18% of executive producers
working on the top 100 films of 2015. 

–Women accounted for 22% of producers working on
the top 100 films of 2015. 

–Women comprised 20% of editors working on the
top 100 films of 2015. 

–Women accounted for 3% of cinematographers
working on the top 100 films of 2010.   

Data for the Top 500 Films of 2015 (for frame of reference, the #498, #499 and #500 movies of 2015 as of January 16, 2016, were the indies "Slow Learners," "Animals" and "Consumed"): 

–Overall, women accounted for 21% of all directors, writers,
executive producers, producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the
top 500 films.

–Women fared best as producers (26%), followed by executive
producers (23%), editors (21%), writers (15%), directors (12%), and
cinematographers (10%).

–Women
comprised 12% of directors working on the top 500 films of 2015.

–Women
accounted for 15% of writers working on the top 500 films of 2015. 

–Women
comprised 23% of executive producers working on the top 500 films of 2015.

–Women
accounted for 26% of producers working on the top 500 films of 2015. 

–Women
comprised 21% of editors working on the top 500 films of 2015.

–Women
accounted for 10% of cinematographers working on the top 500 films of 2015.

A closer look at the top 500 films confirm the truism that women hire women: 

–Films with at least one female director employed greater
percentages of women working as writers, editors, and cinematographers than
films with exclusively male directors.

–On films with at least one female director, women comprised
53% of writers. On films with exclusively male directors, women accounted for
10% of writers

–On films with at least one female director, women comprised
32% of editors. On films with exclusively male directors, women accounted for
19% of editors.

–On films with at least one female director, women comprised
12% of cinematographers. On films with exclusively male directors, women
accounted for 10% of cinematographers.

READ MORE: Watch: A Celebration of the Top-Grossing Women-Directed Films of 2015

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