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Females Grossly Underrepresented and Misrepresented in Top Grossing Films of 2011

by Melissa Silverstein
May 15, 2012 1:03 PM
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New stats are out from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.  This time the research takes a look at the amount of female characters onscreen in the top grossing 100 films of 2011.

The study entitled "It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World:  On-Screen Representations of Female Characters in the Top 100 Films of 2011" showed that women account for 33% of the characters but only 11% of the leading characters.  This is at a time when women make up 51% of the population.  A decade ago women made up 16% of the leads in films.  Male characters are also much more likely to be seen as leaders onscreen 86% compared to 14%.  I guess it's easier to make a man a political leader when that is the norm is society. It's also easier to have more men with leadership capabilities because we see more older men onscreen.  Men over 40 make up 50% of the characters and women over 40 only make up 25% of the characters.

Other stats include the fact that most of the female characters are white 73% and the number of African American females has declined from from 15% in 2002 to 8% in 2011. 

And the kicker is that men get identified by their occupation and women get identified by their marital status and when a woman's occupation is identified 22% of the time the woman is identified as being out of the workforce.

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  • Bes | May 17, 2012 5:07 PMReply

    "when a woman's occupation is identified 22% of the time the woman is identified as being out of the workforce"

    Probably at least 50% of the time a woman's occupation is identified she is a sex trade worker.

  • Margaret | May 16, 2012 4:42 PMReply

    I just wrote a great review about The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It's great because it breaks down steroetypes about gender, culture, and age. The film stars some of the greatest female power-houses of all time on the big screen, Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. I hope you'll check out my blog and let me know what you think about them!

  • Dyan Kane | May 15, 2012 9:03 PMReply

    We have come along way, but many miles to go B4 we sleep. We must write/produce/direct our selves in true to real life roles and stories. Period.

  • Emma K. Harr | May 15, 2012 8:54 PMReply

    I agree with Mr. Medeiros--we've got to start creating out own work. More women need to join forces on the creative side--writing, directing, producing. I'm so ready to see real women characters with stories that matter, that make me want to watch them. Same goes for plays. As an actor who is also a director and aspiring playwright, I'm taking it upon myself to write what I want to see on stage. I'm even teaching a class about this very idea of women being underrepresented at my acting studio. I have girls from age 9 to 14. And I'll be damned if they aren't the next amazing generation of industry experts, too.

  • Michael Medeiros | May 15, 2012 2:49 PMReply

    There is only one antidote for this absurdity. Write, produce direct the characters you want to see. In Tiger Lily Road, 4 of the 6 leads are women.

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