Here are a few resources:

  • Catalyst's website has numerous studies on the power of inclusion, particularly for women in business.
  • The MPAA publishes a yearly report each March on movie attendance.
  • Melissa Silverstein's Women and Hollywood reports on the status of women in the industry both in North America and beyond.

3. Engage and enlist men to help even the playing field.

For the most part, men want to see women succeed. Ask men mentor you and other women.

Gender inequality is a business problem as well as a social problem. Most men have a mother, wife, sister, girlfriend, or daughter who is important in their lives, and they want to see these women represented on screen and in the film industry and succeed in life.

Don't hesitate to ask men to help, arm them with facts, and celebrate them for doing the right thing. It's not easy to go against the tide, as well we know, and gratitude is powerful. Do the same for women who help women. 

4. When you are telling a story as a writer, director, or producer, make sure female characters have something to do on screen, an identity and purpose beyond being arm candy for the male characters.

Even if you're making a male action picture, or especially if you are, make sure female characters have basics like names, professions, and personalities. Have the women help move the story forward.

Say something fresh about the experience of being a woman through your storytelling. That's interesting for women and men. And it broadens our ability to tell stories.

Look at Geena Davis' research on the impact of the habitual under-representation of women in crowd scenes when casting extras, and how that affects the self-esteem of young girls and the perceptions of boys about women.

5. Be a wing woman or man for women.

Catalyst studies show that when women self-promote they are penalized for it, but when men self-promote, they are admired. Make a fuss over women's successes loudly and publicly, and help women toward their goals by making introductions and singing their praises—then ask them to do the same for you.

Talk, Tweet, Facebook, make phone calls, and when someone does it for you, pay it forward.

6. Make noise when things aren't right.

There's power in numbers so write collective letters and get them published when there's an inequity. When there's a round table of exceptional writers or directors during awards season and nary a woman is included, write letters, tweet, call and demand that women be represented.

Women are known as communicators. We lead 63% of messaging in social media. This communication is being tracked increasingly and there's power in what we say so use social media.

7. Build a data base and a 'brand' and keep your audience engaged by communicating with them.

That audience may eventually help you fund small features through crowd-funding, and can definitely help get the message out when a movie is coming out.

8. Mentor men.

Men who have been mentored by women and have the opportunity to see our talents and learn from us first hand, will be a generation who will be supporters of women.

9. Support female-led films financially. 

 If you are a financier, finance female filmmakers! Independent production of successful female-led films will convince 'establishment players' to change their thinking.

Go to film by for and about women, especially opening weekend. Organise groups of people to go to these films, and talk and tweet about them.

10. Demand good research on female movie attendance.

Entertainment research companies often grossly underestimate the performance of female-focused films on opening weekend. Ticket sales for almost every female-focused film are underestimated. Continued success of traditional film and financing entities' decisions about what gets made next relies on accurate tracking.

When fewer female-focused films get made, it diminishes staffing of women in the executive suites and on set.

Don't believe people who claim that women and movies aren't good business. We're great as filmmakers and powerful as movie-goers.


Susan Cartsonis was an executive at 20th Century Fox for nearly a decade, where she rose from script reader to Senior Vice President of Production working on films such as Nell, The Truth about Cats and Dogs, For the Boys, Dying Young and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. As a producer she has worked on the box office successes including What Women Want, Where the Heart Is, Beastly and No Reservations.

Republished with permission.