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Female representation in filmmaking inches upwards

January 11, 2021 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

Women in the media and entertainment industry are making slow but steady progress in closing Hollywood’s gender gap. According to the Celluloid Ceiling Report, women working behind the scenes in the industry’s top 100 films increased from 20% in 2019 to 21% as representation in the top 250 films grew from 21% to 23%. The Celluloid Ceiling Report is produced by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. It is one of the industry’s most comprehensive study of women’s employment in film and this is its 23rd year of reporting. 

Key findings:

  • Women in the top 100 grossing films:
    • Women accounted for 16% of directors in 2020, up from 12% in 2019.
    • Women did best as producers (28%), followed by executive producers (21%), editors (18%), directors (16%), writers (12%), and cinematographers (3%). Important to know, female writers (12%) declined by 8 percentage points from 2019.
  • Women in the top 250 grossing films:
    • Women comprised 18% of directors working in 2020, up from 13% in 2019.
  • Women accounted for 30% of all producers, 22% of all editors, 21% of all executive producers, 17% of all writers and 6% of all cinematographers.

While there is progress in the number of women working in movies, there is still a long way to go to close this industry’s gender gap.

Of the top 250 grossing films in 2020:

  • 94% did not employ a female cinematographer,
  • 80% did not employ a female director,
  • 73% did not employ a female writer,
  • 72% did not employ a female editor, and
  • 41% did not employ a female executive producer.

Females champion one another

The study also found that films with at least one female director are much more likely to hire women to be editors, cinematographers, and other behind-the-scenes jobs. In fact, of films with female directors, 53% of the writers and 39% of the editors are also female. In comparison, only 8% of the writers and 18% of the editors are women in movies with male directors. 

Both 2019 and 2020 registered growth in women working in films, however, there is still a large imbalance of females employed in this industry compared to men. In fact, a full 80% of today’s top films do not have female representation at the highest level. Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of films (67%) employ 0 to 4 women in the roles mentioned above, while 5% of films employ 0 to 4 men in those jobs. It is important to highlight the underemployment of women in films and the need for studios to hire more women in significant roles. It is time to ensure a gender balance in the entertainment business and to make certain more women are involved in the strategic decision-making process of the industry.

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