The Celluloid Ceiling – Women in Hollywood

Screen International reported today on the findings of the Center for Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego University. The centre’s survey of employment on the Top 250 domestic films at the US Box Office in 2011. Although the survey found that there were marginal increases in the overall employment of women – a 2% increase in total employment since 2010, but only 1% since 1998 – the striking figure is that only 5% of the directing roles on the 250 films went to women. Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar success is still likely to be an isolated incident for American films unless something changes dramatically in the mind-set of studio executives. As it is, the report comments on women’s opportunities thus:

“Women were most likely to work in the documentary, drama, and comedy genres. They were least likely to work in the horror, action, and animated genres.”

Teachers and researchers can download an executive summary of the findings from the link above. The same website has a useful list of links and books/articles on women in the film and TV industries here.

2 responses to “The Celluloid Ceiling – Women in Hollywood

  1. As well as the headline figure, one important aspect is the relationship of the proportion of women professionals to the percentage of films they are involved in. Women producers at 25% of the total are punching above their weight since they are involved in 64% of the top 250 films made (commercially). Directors and cinematographers (5% and 4% respectively) continued to be effectively locked out with 94% and 96% of films without a female in these roles at all. Where there is a possibility of more than one professional – i.e. producing, editing – there are more women registering in these top films. Where it is one key role, they’re not making progress, in fact female directors have dropped 2% since 2011. It’s significant as well that producing is talked of as a naturally ‘feminine’ activity (an acceptable one for women in the film industry) and editing was a female-oriented role from cinema’s inception. Mind you, there were a few female directors back then as well – before they were disappeared!

  2. “According to the statistics published Wednesday (February 1) by the Swedish Film Institute, the efforts to achieve equality between men and women film-makers are progressing. 30% of the new features launched in 2011 had a woman director, 38% a woman script-writer, and 28% a woman producer. Among the productions subsidised by the institute, the women’s share was 41% for directors, 51% for scriptwriters and 28% for producers.” (from Cineuropa)

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