Percentage of women behind the camera hasn't changed, study finds

Alicia Farmer
January 13, 2018

Hiring more women, Lauzen said, is sure to reduce the number of sexual harassment incidents, as well as lead to more inclusive story-telling. "When you have women working behind the scenes that frequently translates into more female characters on screens and you tend to see more powerful female characters".

Women made up just 18% of all the directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers who worked on the top 250 USA films released a year ago, according to Lauzen's study for 2017 titled "The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the Scenes Employment of Women". The results show virtually no change in the last 20 years for women in Hollywood. By specific role, women accounted for 11 percent of writers, 19 percent of executive producers, 25 percent of producers, 16 percent of editors, and four percent of cinematographers.

Women made up only 18 percent of all the directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers on 2017's top 250 films - a percentage that has remained nearly constant since the study began in 1998.

As they have in the past, the studies give statistical evidence to the widespread alarm about gender equality in Hollywood.

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"2016 was a poor year for women's employment as directors". The percentage of female cinematographers has stayed exactly the same. They comprised 11 percent of all directors working on the top 250 films of 2017 ― an increase of 4 points from 2016 and even with the percentage in 2000. On films with female directors, writers were 68% female, compared with 8% for films directed by men. Slightly less than one-third employed zero or only one woman in these roles, while none of the movies employed zero or only one man.

This despite the fact that female-directed feature films pulled in a huge $1.2 billion globally in 2017, proving that women have what it takes to make films people want to see. Female cinematographers only represented 2 percent of the top 100 films. For instance, of the top 250 films released in 1998, women comprised just 17% of those key behind-the-scenes jobs.

The Celluloid Ceiling is the longest-running and most comprehensive study of women's behind-the-scenes employment in film available. However, the lack of female nominees, particularly in a year that included major acclaim for Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird, Dee Rees's Mudbound and Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman (the ninth top-grossing film of the year), was no laughing matter.

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