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Women Held Just 18% of Behind-the-Camera Roles in 2017, Rate Virtually Unchanged Over 20 Years

The latest Celluloid Ceiling study found that while some roles have increased for women in the industry, the overall number remains stagnant over two decades.

Ava DuVernay on the set of “Selma”

Atsushi Nishijima/Paramount

Less than a week after the release of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s latest study, “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair? Gender, Race & Age of Directors across 1,000 films from 2007-2017″ — which found that, of total of 109 film directors associated with the 100 top movies of 2017, a full 92.7% were male and 7.3% were female — another long-running study of women in the entertainment industry has revealed similarly uninspiring numbers.

In its twentieth year, San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film and executive director Martha M. Lauzen have revealed their latest “Celluloid Ceiling” study, tracking women’s behind-the- scenes employment in the film world. This 2017 study finds that “women comprised 18% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents an increase of 1 percentage point from 17% in 2016 and is virtually unchanged from the percentage achieved in 1998.”

Even with the massive uptick of interest and box office heft of female-directed and -centric films, the numbers have not changed in twenty years.

Lauzen told the Los Angeles Times the lack of progress over the past two decades is “staggering,” and “she pointed to her research that found only 1% of films last year employed 10 or more women as directors, producers, editors, writers and cinematographers. That compares with 70% of films that had 10 or more men in key roles.” “One percent versus 70%. That is just outrageous inequality,” Lauzen told the outlet. “This negligence has produced a toxic culture that supported the recent sexual harassment scandals and truncates so many women’s careers.”

There are, however, a few bright spots, as the study found that “women accounted for 11% of directors working on the top 250 films in 2017, up 4 percentage points from 7% in 2016 and even with the percentage achieved in 2000.” Moreover, “a historical comparison of women’s employment in the top 250 films in 2017 and 1998 reveals that the percentages of directors, executive producers, and producers have increased.” And yet, “the percentages of writers and editors have declined, and the percentage of women cinematographers has remained the same.”

Elsewhere, the study noted that “women fared best as producers (25%), followed by executive producers (19%), editors (16%), writers (11%), directors (11%), and cinematographers (4%).”

You can read the full Celluloid Ceiling report right here, and you can also catch up on the USC Annenberg “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair?” study right here.

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