Over the past two decades, the number of female directors in Hollywood has barely changed
When Natalie Portman called out the Golden Globes for its “all male” Best Director nominees, she may have gotten a couple of chuckles from her co-presenter, Ron Howard. 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.
And neither are the results of the annual Celluloid Ceiling study via The Hollywood Reporter, the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University which found that, of the 250 top-grossing films, only 18 per cent of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers were female. That’s compared to a paltry 17 per cent in 1998, signifying little progress over the last two decades.
In addition, the study found that only one per cent of the top 250 films employed 10 or more women in “key behind-the-scenes positions,” while 70 per cent employed 10 or more men in the same roles. Films featuring female directors, meanwhile, were more likely to employ a higher percentage of female writers, editors, cinematographers and composers than male directors.
This news comes at a time when women have taken a front and centre role in Hollywood with the #MeToo movement and Time’s Up initiative, a legal defence fund to help protect less fortunate women in other fields from sexual misconduct.
Martha Lauzen, the centre’s executive director, noted in the report, “The film industry has utterly failed to address the continuing under-employment of women behind the scenes. This negligence has produced a toxic culture that supported the recent sexual harassment scandals and truncates so many women’s careers.”