Hollywood, No Woman’s Land

Published: 10 December 2013

Country: USA

hungergames2The box office is the only place within the film industry in the United States that shows gender equality with 50/50 male/female audience who buys tickets to go to the movies. This balance is missing in the rest of the industry where the majority of directors, producers, writers and cast are men.

These are some of the results of a study called ‘Gender Inequality in Film’ by the New York Film Academy. Its main conclusion is that Hollywood remains stuck in its gender bias.

For every 5 men working on films, there is only 1 woman. Looking closely there is only 9% of women who direct, 15% who write and 25% who produce films in Hollywood.

Among these low figures, successful stories are found such as the director Kathryn Bigelow, who was the first woman to win the best director Oscar in 2010 or women-led films such as The Hunger Games which set records in the box office during the Thanksgiving weekends, being one the most important weekends for the movies in the United States.

The academic study asks how women were portrayed on screen in the top 500 films. The answer are that men ‘run the show’ as nearly 70% of speaking characters were men and there is a tendency to portray more women than men wearing sexually clothes and getting them partially naked.

“The film industry doesn’t exist in a bubble. It is part of a larger society that tends to have biases and prejudices,” explains Dr Martha M Lauzen in the interview for The Guardian. Her research forms the basis of the academy study and she is the executive director of the Centre for the Study of Women in Television, Film & New Media at San Diego state university, California.

This report coincides with some historical events for women in the film industry. For instance, for the first time in 90 years long history of Disney movies, one of their films was co-directed and written by a woman. The director is Jennifer Lee and the movie is Frozen which, according to some reviews, avoids the usual clichés of princess films.

“More and more women are getting into animation. When you are the only female in the room, it is harder to talk. Having more of us in the room makes for richer stories,” says Lee for Indiewire.

genderfilm1The gender inequality in Hollywood is also visible through wage gap. There is only one woman among the top ten highest paid actors. That is Angeline Jolie in the last place of top ten with $33 million.

This study portrays how sexist and bias is Hollywood, which the New York Film Academy hopes to change starting a discussion about what can be done to increase women’s exposure and power in big-budget films.

“Attitudes about gender or race or age are held on a very deep level. Old habits die hard. One of the reasons we haven’t seen much change, is that it’s not seen as a problem by people in positions of power – even by some women. Unless you perceive something as a problem you’re not going to fix it”, says Dr Lauzen.

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