Hollywood's Women Problem Is Actually Getting Worse

An L.A.-area set
An L.A.-area set

Hollywood has been roundly browbeaten by critics who say it's long past time to diversify when it comes to women and minorities. The two-year #OscarsSoWhite campaign gave the film industry a serious black eye, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences responded earnestly with a pledge to double its minority membership by 2020. Criticism of gender bias in Hollywood inspired the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to launch an investigation last year.

Still, diversity hires in film and TV have not been improving in recent years, according to studies from UCLA and USC. And now a new report finds that the jobs for women — despite the criticism — actually are fewer. San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film recently unveiled its 19th annual Celluloid Ceiling report. In a look at the 250 top-grossing domestic films in 2016, it found that just 7 percent had female directors — down 2 percentage points compared with 2015 and compared with 1998.

"Somewhat remarkably, given the current EEOC investigation and the abundant attention the diversity issue has received over the last couple of years, the percentages of women working in important behind-the-scenes roles actually declined last year," Martha Lauzen, director of the center, said via email.

In more than one out of three films examined, there were zero to one women employed as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors or cinematographers, the analysis found. Women overall comprised 13 percent of writers, 17 percent of executive producers, 24 percent of producers, 17 percent of editors and 5 percent of cinematographers. Fewer than one in five of those gigs (17 percent), taken as a whole, went to women, the report found. That's also a 2 percent decrease compared with 2015.

Lauzen said in a statement, "Women working in key behind-the-scenes roles have yet to benefit from the current dialogue regarding diversity and inclusion in the film industry."

According to UCLA's Hollywood Diversity Report, minority representation in the industry has been declining, namely because Latinos have grown to become such a large segment of the population (nearly half of L.A. County). At least Hollywood is consistent in its disenfranchisement of women and minorities, though.

The industry's efforts to recruit women "are simply too meager to create the kind of shift that is needed," Lauzen stated.


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