Magazine article Variety

A Time for Action, Not Promises

Magazine article Variety

A Time for Action, Not Promises

Article excerpt

In recent months, media accounts of sexual harassment scandals and eye-popping pay disparities have given way to stories about "tectonic" shifts in the film industry The sheer volume and often contradictory nature of the coverage on the issue of women working in film have created the simultaneous feelings that everything has changed and nothing has changed.

An ad campaign for Rolex watches touts Kathryn Bigelow as one of the "masters of cinema," yet she is the only woman to have ever won a director Oscar. A help line now exists for those who have been sexually harassed, yet the fate of many high-profile offenders remains undecided. Representatives of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - which has issued charges of gender discrimination against the big studios - continue to negotiate with executives, but there is no (public) word of a resolution.

In the midst of this uncertainty, one reality remains clear. The percentages of women working in film have yet to budge in any meaningful way. In fact, the ratio of individuals working in key behind-the-scenes roles in 2017 was almost exactly the same as it was two decades ago. Women comprised just 18% of individuals working as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers on the top-grossing 250 domestic films of 2017, an increase of a slender percentage point from 17% in 1998. One percent of films employed 10 or more women in the above roles and 70% employed 10 or more men in those roles, according to the latest "Celluloid Ceiling" study conducted by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

Women accounted for 11% of directors on top-grossing films, and while this number represents an increase of 4 percentage points from 7% in 2016, it is not unfamiliar territory: In 2000, women comprised 11% of directors, but the successes of Mimi Leder ("Pay It Forward"), Bonnie Hunt ("Return to Me"), Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Love & Basketball") and Mary Harron ("American Psycho"), among others during that year, failed to translate into more opportunities for women. This comes as no surprise in a business culture that has considered every success by a woman to be a fluke and every triumph a one-off.

On-screen, the numbers tell a similar story Females made up 24% of protagonists in 2017, a decrease of 5 percentage points from 29% in 2016. …

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