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Number of Female Directors Working in Hollywood Declines, New Study Shows

On the plus side, films with at least one female director employed greater percentages of women writers, editors, cinematographers and composers.

Ava DuVernay on the set of “Selma”

Atsushi Nishijima/Paramount

Each year for the past nineteen years, The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University has released its “Celluloid Ceiling” report, which uses metrics tracking the employment of women working behind the scenes — from director to editor to producer, and plenty other roles in between — on the previous year’s top 100, 250 and 500 domestic grossing films to check in on how Hollywood and its often shocking gender disparity.

This year’s report — tracking films from 2016 — has now been released, and within it, some very disheartening news indeed.

READ MORE: Female Filmmakers Want to Direct Blockbusters; Here’s Why They Don’t – Girl Talk

The study finds that, despite an ongoing EEOC investigation to gender inequality in Hollywood and continued calls to action and attention paid the issues surrounding the problem, the number of women working behind the scenes in Hollywood has actually declined since 2015. The study concludes that women make up just 7% of directors working on the top 250 films (again, that number pulls from the highest grossing domestic features from each year), which is actually down a staggering 2% from last year. Even more jarring, that number is also 2% below the figure from back in 1998.

Other important findings from the study also notes that women make up just 17% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 films — which, like the directors-only figure, is down 2% from last year. Elsewhere, the study highlights that women make up just 3% of all working composers (the lowest percentage of all positions studied), and while that is a jarring number on its own, it actually comes with some good news — that’s up 1% from last year.

Of all the films studied for the report, 35% of them did not employ a female director, writer, producer, executive producer, editor or cinematographer.

There is, however, one upside worth examining: on films that had at least one female director, employment levels for female writers, editors, cinematographers and composers were considerably higher than on films with just male directors. By way of example, on films that had at least one female director, women comprised 64% of writers. On films with exclusively male directors, women accounted for just 9% of writers.

READ MORE: ‘Star Wars’ Saga Has ‘Every Intention’ to Hire Female Director, Clarifies Kathleen Kennedy

You can read the full report right here, which also includes eye-opening facts about not just industry positions, but also an intriguing breakdown of the various film genres and a closer look at the composer world.

And, as ever, if you’re looking for a list of female directors who are ready, willing and able to make large-scale films, we’ve got a lot of ideas for you.

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