Gender Studies: Unprecedented Study on Women Directors

Pictured above: Cathy Shulman, Board President of Women in Film, Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, Dr. Stacy Smith, head researcher, media diversity expert, goddess

This is one of a series of love letters to one of my idols- Dr. Stacy Smith. She’s a professor at the University of Southern California, at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Her research team has done various studies quantifying the ways in which films and television are still sexist in its representation of not only women, but men as well.

In this study, the career trajectories of women directors, writers, producers, cinematographers, and editors were tracked. They asked these women what the barriers in the industry were, as well as pitting the numbers of female professionals against male. Some fun (read: depressing) statistics:

  • Women made up only 4.4% of directors in the top 100 box office films each year from 2002 to 2012.
  • Females direct more documentaries than narrative films – 34.5% vs 16.9%
  • Women are more likely to be producers, and as the roles become more high profile and money becomes a factor, the number of women goes down.  So women are more likely to be associate producers than producers *
    • Almost half the women interviewed (43.1%) said that MONEY was the biggest problem.  It’s about taking women directors seriously, it’s about taking women’s visions seriously.  It’s about trusting women’s visions and that is still a major problem.
    • Almost 40% of the women said that “Male-dominated industry networking” is a barrier.
    • Getting stereotyped as a “women director” – 15.7% ** (What the fuck kind of blatant sexism is this?!?!?)
      • Not getting hired because they are women – 13.7% **
      • There has been NO sustained growth in women directors over the last decade in both narrative and documentaries

So really, this post could’ve alternately been called “Shit hasn’t changed at all in the last half century”, “Breaking news: Industry men are still sexist and greedy”, or “Circular thinking: how to make shittier movies and ignore half the population”.

Wake up and smell the feminism, Hollywood.

*A previous study found that females in behind the scenes roles make less money than their male counterparts with the same title. If the whole point of these films is to produce profit, doesn’t it stand to reason that hiring female crew would guarantee a higher profit margin? Less money spent on production would mean keeping more of the profit. Logic: often precise and commonly disregarded by pigheaded bigots.

**Director Catherine Hardwicke has said that after the massive success of Twilight, people still didn’t want to hire her because they didn’t know if she could carry a male driven film. If anyone has seen Lords of Dogtown, you can smell the bullshit from a mile away. Source: Missrepresentation documentary.

Original article found here.

The actual study: Exploring the Barriers and Opportunities for Independent Women Filmmakers

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No Gender Revolution

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