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New Report Finds Film Industry In State of "Gender Inertia": Women's Employment Not Improving

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood January 15, 2014 at 2:25PM

Women's Studies scholar Martha Lauzen has released this year's Celluloid Ceiling report, and the stats aren't great. In 2013, women comprised 16% of individuals working in key behind-the-scenes roles on the top 250 grossing films. This figure is actually down slightly from 2012 -- and even 1998. Women accounted for 6% of US directors.If foreign films in the top 250 are included, the figure increases to 8%.
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Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow

Women's Studies scholar Martha Lauzen has released this year's Celluloid Ceiling report, and the stats aren't great. In 2013, women comprised 16% of individuals working in key behind-the-scenes roles on the top 250 grossing films. This figure is actually down slightly from 2012 -- and even 1998. Women accounted for 6% of US directors. If foreign films in the top 250 are included, that figure increases to 8%.

Nicole Holofcener, director of "Enough Said"
Daniel Bergeron Nicole Holofcener, director of "Enough Said"

This year's study also reports figures for women working as composers, production designers, sound designers, special effects supervisors, supervising sound editors, and visual effects supervisors.

The long and short of the findings? Lauzen calls it "gender inertia." She writes:

There is no evidence to suggest that women's employment in key roles has improved over the last 16 years.  I think Manohla Dargis got it right when she told Variety recently, "Hollywood is failing women" and  "until the industry starts making serious changes, nothing is going to change." 

Some graphs and bullet points of Lauzen's findings:


Celluloid Ceiling Graph 1
Celluloid Ceiling Graph 2


•Overall, women accounted for 16% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors.  This represents a decrease of two percentage points since 2012 and a decrease of one percentage point from 1998 (see Figure 1).

-A historical comparison of women’s employment on the top 250 films in 2013 and 1998 reveals that the percentages of women directors, writers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers have declined.  The percentage of producers has increased slightly (see Figure 2).

•36% of films employed 0 or 1 woman in the roles considered, 23% employed 2 women, 33% employed 3 to 5 women, 6% employed 6 to 9 women, and 2% employed 10 to 13 women.  In contrast, 1% of films employed 0 or 1 man in the roles considered, and 32% employed 10 to 13 men.

•A historical comparison of women’s employment on the top 250 films in 2013 and 2012 reveals that the percentages of women directors, writers, executive producers, and editors have declined.  The percentage of women producers has remained the same.  The percentage of women cinematographers has increased slightly.

Women comprised 6% of all directors working on the top 250 films of 2013.  This represents a decrease of 3 percentage points from 2012 and 1998.  Ninety-three percent (93%) of the films had no female directors.  (If foreign films in the top 250 films are included, women comprised 8% of directors.)

Women accounted for 10% of writers working on the top 250 films of 2013.  This represents a decrease of 5 percentage points from 2012 and a decrease of 3 percentage points from 1998. Eighty three percent (83%) of the films had no female writers.

Women comprised 15% of all executive producers working on the top 250 films of 2013.  This represents a decrease of 2 percentage points from 2012 and three percentage points from 1998.  Sixty percent (60%) of the films had no female executive producers.

Women accounted for 25% of all producers working on the top 250 films of 2013. This figure is even with 2012 and represents an increase of 1 percentage point from 1998.  Thirty three percent (33%) of the films had no female producers.

Women comprised 17% of all editors working on the top 250 films of 2013. This represents a decrease of 3 percentage points from 2012 and 1998.  Seventy nine percent (79%) of the films had no female editors.

Women accounted for 3% of all cinematographers working on the top 250 films of 2013.  This represents an increase of one percentage point from 2012 and a decrease of one percentage point from 1998.  Ninety seven percent (97%) of the films had no female cinematographers.

Women were most likely to work in the  drama, comedy, and documentary film genres. They were least likely to work in the animated, sci-fi, and horror genres.

Women comprised 2% of all composers working on the top 250 films of 2013.  Ninety seven percent (97%) of films had no female composers.

Women accounted for 23% of all production designers working on the top 250 films of 2013.  This represents an increase of 3 percentage points from 2008, the last year this data was collected.  Seventy eight percent (78%) of films had no female production designers.

Women comprised 4% of all sound designers working on the top 250 films of 2013.  This represents a decrease of 1 percentage point from 2008.   Ninety seven percent (97%) of films had no female sound designers.

Women accounted for 9% of all supervising sound editors working on the top 250 films of 2013.  This represents an increase of 4 percentage points from 2008.  Ninety seven percent (97%) of films had no female supervising sound editors.

Women comprised 2% of all special effects supervisors working on the top 250 films of 2013.  Ninety-nine percent (99%) of films had no female special effects supervisors. 

Women accounted for 5% of all visual effects supervisors working on the top 250 films of 2013.  Ninety one percent (91%) of films had no female visual effects supervisors.

This article is related to: News, Women in Film, News


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.