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Guest Post: Hollywood's Dirty Little Secret

Women and Hollywood By Rachel Feldman | Women and Hollywood October 4, 2012 at 2:00PM

According to the latest “Boxed In” report compiled by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, Executive Director at The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, released on September 18, 2012, 90% of American broadcast television programs employed NO women directors, during the 2011 - 2012 television season!! 
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According to the latest “Boxed In” report compiled by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, Executive Director at The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, released on September 18, 2012, 90% of American broadcast television programs employed NO women directors, during the 2011 - 2012 television season!! 

How can it be 2012 and not a single female was hired to direct on the majority of prime time dramas, comedies, or reality series airing on ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, and NBC?  Why are we not outraged?

Television is one of America’s most influential exports. Sponsored by companies that court the female consumers and the ultimate transmitter of vital, viral cultural messaging around the world, one would think that women’s voices would have immense, tangible value.

In politics we think of Hollywood as a progressive environment. Isn’t this is the nation where presidents court moguls and movie stars who help elect liberals?  And yet there are more women in Congress than women working behind the camera. Women have made  strides in every segment of other traditionally male-dominated industries including banking, medicine, technology, manufacturing, law and even trucking! Why not Hollywood?

At a recent panel of successful women in motion pictures, one of the few women running a studio today pondered aloud why more women weren’t directing movies.  A brave heckler stood up from the crowd and shouted, “Why don’t you hire some?” Embarrassed, the executive finally admitted that she didn’t know many.

Well, we’re out here, well-trained, ready to go. As co-chair of the Directors Guild of America Women’s Steering Committee, I will lead you toward a squadron of brilliant, skilled women directors. According to the most recent edition of the DGA Directory of Members, there are 1100 women directors.  These are not women who want to direct, but experienced directors. A veritable army is waiting.

Admittedly, women’s resumes can sometimes look different from a traditional male bio and it might take a small measure of imagination and instinct to ascertain the right match.  Many women, simply because of the absence of opportunity, have cobbled together careers by directing shorts, independent films, theater, creating graphic novels, webisodes and teaching.  Some resumes have gaps created by having babies and raising children.  Many more women toil in the trenches as Assistant Directors and Unit Production Managers, yearning to move up with few opportunities.  It’s high time that our skillful tenacity was valued, not perceived as “less than”, in comparison to men.

Big-name agency representation is another obstacle for many women. Without the validation and veneer of a well-oiled, industry pipeline, access to those who hire is next to impossible.  A lawsuit in 1983 prompted some real change.  But must we rely upon judges to determine what makes sense and is fair?

This article is related to: Women Directors, Television, Sexism