Over the last couple of years we have seen a debate spark over the lacking number of women employed as directors, writers and behind the scenes workers in film. Stars like Elizabeth Banks, Melissa McCarthy, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Lawrence have been vocal about equal pay for women working in the film industry and the low numbers of female filmmakers. Many believed that all the extra attention brought to the disparities women face in the film industry would do some good, but as a new report suggests, the rate of women directors has actually declined in the last year.
Variety reports about the new data coming from the Center For the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University that shows the rate of women directors working on 250 of the highest grossing films of 2016 dropped by 2 percentage point from both 2015 and 1998. What’s more is that just 7% of directors working on these films were women.
Women employed behind the scenes were also represented in underwhelming numbers last year. Women producers accounted for just 24% of top grossing films, a 2% decline from 2015, and women editors were also way down, accounting for 17%, a decline of 5% from the previous year. Women sound designers and cinematographers also saw a drop in numbers over the last year. Women did see an increase in the writing field of 2% from 2015 to 2016, accounting for a modest 13% of film writers. But this number was still even with numbers from 1998.
So, why with all the added attention to the problem are we seeing a decline in women filmmakers? Author of the study Martha Lauzen isn’t sure and she thinks we need to consider a new approach to the problem. She says of the report, “I would say I’m dumbfounded. It is remarkable that with all of the attention and talk over the last couple of years in the business and the film industry, the numbers actually declined. Clearly the current remedies aren’t working.” Lauzen thinks to truly see more equal numbers the film industry might need a hand from the government. She adds, “The industry has shown little real will to change in a substantive way. For real change to occur we may need some intervention by an outside source.”
What do you think of the current report that shows women filmmakers are actually on the decline?
Do you think more can be done to assure equal pay and employment opportunities for women in the film industry?