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How Were Women Represented in Top Films of 2013? It's a Man's (Celluloid) World, Folks

News
by Ryan Lattanzio
March 11, 2014 4:19 PM
5 Comments
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Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams in "American Hustle"

2013 was a banner year for women at the box office, with Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lawrence, Melissa McCarthy and others demonstrating once again that females can carry big-budget movies to success. But was last year truly that different from years past?

The numbers from the latest It's A Man's (Celluloid) World report, compiled by San Diego State's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, are in. Unfortunately, females remained dramatically underrepresented as protagonists and major or minor characters in the top 100 grossing films of 2013. In comparing the most recent figures to the films of 2011 and 2012, the report surveys about 7,000 characters across 300 movies. Check out a graph from the report below, and read the report, in full, here.

According to the study, women comprised 15% of protagonists, 29% of major characters and 30% of all speaking characters. Only 13% of the year's top grossing films featured equal numbers of major male and female characters, or more major female characters than men. 

As per Hollywood's bevelled standards of age and beauty, female characters were mostly younger than their male counterparts, and more likely to have an identifiable marital status than any goals or leadership roles. (Think "American Hustle" and even "Frozen," whose women, at the end of the day, just wanted to get the guy.)

Last year, the New York Film Academy created a similar study that surveyed how women have fared in film over the last five years -- with equally alarming findings about gender parity.

Here's how the comparison of male and female characters stacked up over the last three years:


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5 Comments

  • Gary Fox | March 22, 2014 9:25 PMReply

    wowwwwwww
    After listening to Thompson on "Studio 360"
    I see that Thompson is ultra narrow minded and trendish
    She must have F's in History Class
    Maybe, just Maybe why there are "So Few Women's Rolls" is that, let see
    Oh yeah the lack of, Women Writers!!!, Women Directors!!!!, Women Producers!!!!
    Women did dominate Hollywood before WWII
    Mae West
    And what is one of the Most Favorite Mag the Action Age of boys like????
    Heavy Metal, which is full of Female Heroins
    Of course Thompson has no clue as to there are so many Male Heroes in the Movies
    It goes back to the Cultural Norm that Men are Expendable!
    "Women & Children 1st!"
    So since the dawn of Civilization Boys have been encouraged to take more chances

  • anonymous | March 13, 2014 9:19 PMReply

    "Let me point out what should be the obvious flaw in these stats and their conclusion. They reflect the TOP grossing films. It means the numbers are market driven. That audiences overwhelmingly prefer to go see films with men in the prominent roles. "

    No it doesn't. That would only be true if women were given equal lead roles in mainstream studio films to begin with. But they aren't.

  • anonymous | March 24, 2014 7:26 PM

    It has nothing to do with equality of roles. Audiences more often reject female driven films. The occasional hit doesn't disprove that.

  • me | March 12, 2014 12:46 PMReply

    How could you totally fail to mention Cate Blanchett/Blue Jasmin in the opening sentence?

  • Incremental Jones | March 11, 2014 5:59 PMReply

    Let me point out what should be the obvious flaw in these stats and their conclusion. They reflect the TOP grossing films. It means the numbers are market driven. That audiences overwhelmingly prefer to go see films with men in the prominent roles. Exactly the opposite of the point these numbers are supposed to make - that it is studio sexism that causes an underrepresentation of women. Oops, I meant misogyny.

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