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Women Working In Film Aren’t Much Better Off Than In 1998, Study Finds

Deadline logo Deadline 1/12/2017 Erik Pedersen

The latest data is in for women employed on the 250 top-grossing films of 2016, and the numbers are abysmal – lower, in many cases, than in 1998 – according to San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Film.

© Provided by Deadline In her 19th annual “Celluloid Ceiling” report, Dr. Martha Lauzen found that women comprised only 17% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films last year. “This represents a decline of two percentage points from last year,” she wrote, “and is even with the percentage achieved in 1998” – when she issued her first report.

Women directors, whose underemployment is currently being investigated by the federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, fared particularly poorly. “Women accounted for 7% of directors, down from 9% in 2015 and 1998,” according to the report.

The report found that of the behind-the-scenes employment of the 3,212 individuals working on the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2016, “Women fared best as producers (24%), followed by editors (17%), executive producers (17%), writers (13%), directors (7%), and cinematographers (5%).”

Comparing women’s employment on the top 250 films in 1998 and 2016, the study found that the percentage of cinematographers has increased slightly; that the percentages of writers and producers have remained the same, and that the percentages of women directors, executive producers, and editors have actually declined.

Comparing women’s employment on the top 250 films in 2015 and 2016, the study found that the percentage of women writers increased slightly, but that the percentages of women directors, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers declined.

Last year, the report found, women accounted for 13% of writers working on the top 250 films – an increase of two percentage points from 2015, but the same as in 1998. Last year, 77% of the films had no female writers; 92% had no women directors; 58% had no women executive producers; 34% had no women producers; 79% had no women editors, 96% had no women cinematographers, and 35% of films had zero or only one woman in any of these jobs.

Among the other findings:

•Women comprised 17% of all executive producers working on the top 250 films of 2016 down from 20% in 2015 and down from 18% in 1998. Fifty-eight percent of the films had no female executive producers at all last year.

•Women accounted for 24% of all producers working on the top 250 films of 2016. This represents a decline of two percentage points from 2015 and is even with the percentage from 1998. Thirty-four percent of the films had no female producers.

•Women comprised 17% of all editors working on the top 250 films of 2016. This represents a decrease of five percentage points from 2015 and a decrease of three percentage points from 1998. Seventy nine percent of the films had no female editors.

•Women accounted for 5% of all cinematographers working on the top 250 films of 2016. This represents a decline of one percentage point from 2015 and an increase of one percentage point from 1998. Ninety 96% of the films had no female cinematographers.

•Women were most likely to work in the documentary and drama genres, accounting for 24% and 20% of individuals working on these films respectively. Women were least likely to work in the action and horror genres, accounting for 11% and 12% of those working on these films respectively.

•Women comprised 3% of composers working on the top 250 grossing films of 2016 – up from 2% in 2015.

•Women accounted for 8% of supervising sound editors working on the top 250 films of 2016 – up from 5% in 2014.

•Women comprised 4% of sound designers working on the top 250 grossing films of 2016 – down from 5% in 2014.

More on women in film: 

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