While actresses are able to command audiences and win awards, the story of female creatives in Hollywood is still very much about male domination.
The number of women working behind the camera in Hollywood’s top-grossing films has changed little over the past decade despite a slight uptick last year, according to an annual study released on Jan 13.
The Celluloid Ceiling study from San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film says 7% of the top 250 films at the US box office in 2014 were directed by a woman, a 1% increase from 2013.
“It’s not really moving much one way or the other,” says study author Martha Lauzen, who adds that the number of films directed by women in 2014 has declined to 7% from 9% since the study began 1998.
The study finds that 17% of key off-screen figures including directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers were made up of women, also a 1% rise from 2013 but unchanged from 1998.
“This is clearly an industry-wide problem that requires and industry-wide solution,” says Lauzen. “As an industry, film has not taken on this issue of women’s chronic underemployment.”
The study comes as Hollywood’s awards season revs into high gear following the recently concluded Golden Globe Awards and the upcoming Academy Awards. Ava DuVernay’s historical drama Selma is the only early Oscar favourite this year to be directed by a woman, while Angelina Jolie’s World War Two biopic Unbroken is the only film by a woman to crack the top 100 at the US box office in 2014.
Only one woman, Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 for The Hurt Locker, has won the Oscar for Best Director in 86 years of Hollywood’s top honours.
The study considered 2,822 behind-the-scenes workers and found women were most highly represented as producers at 23% and executive producers at 19%. Women comprised 18% of editors, 11% of writers while cinematographers were the lowest represented job at 5%.
Lauzen says one issue facing women is a greater emphasis in Hollywood on ethnic diversity as opposed to gender diversity. “The sex of the director is incredibly important because research shows that the sex of the director is related to the percentage of female characters that we see on screen.”
“This is a very complex industry and a very complex problem,” adds Lauzen. “There isn’t a magic bullet here. – Reuters