We all know from our filmgoing experience that there are less women onscreen. USC put out a new study analyzing the top grossing films of 2009 and confirms what we know to be true. There are more men in the movies. Women buy 50% of the tickets and yet we don't have 50% of the representation onscreen. And let's not talk about off screen. That number is sadly much worse.
The study shows that women make up only 32.8% of the speaking roles. That's 2.05 males characters for each female character.
They also counted the number of women who directed the top grossing 100 films and the number is a whopping 4 which makes up 3.6%. (Betty Thomas, Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel; Anne Fletcher, The Proposal; Nancy Meyers, It’s Complicated; Nora Ephron, Julie & Julia.) Women writers make up 13.5% of the writers and 21.6% of the producers. This number is down from 8% in 2008.
Women onscreen are stereotyped - women are shown more as parents, in relationships, and are younger than their male counterparts. There are more men onscreen (35.2% vs. 22.2%) than women between 40 and 64 years old.
Women are sexualized - this makes me crazy. Women wear more sexy clothes, expose skin, and are referenced more as attractive. And this happens for teenage girls as well as adults.
But there is some good news.
Women hire women - When women are involved behind the scenes, they create more roles for women by a factor of 10%.
Here's the conclusion:
Overall, the landscape of cinematic content is still grossly imbalanced. Females are not only infrequent, but they are also stereotyped and sexualized in popular motion picture content. Little change has occurred across the three years studied, with absolutely no movement in the percentage of females working behind-‐the-‐scenes in key gatekeeping positions. As for on screen portrayals, an increase was observed. In the percentage of films depicting gendered-‐balanced casts. But this increase was a hair shy of our 5% criterion. Less than one‐fifth of roughly 300 films evaluated featured stories with gender parity. Very few films featured females as the majority of speaking characters, however (2007=5 movies; 2008=6 movies; 2009=5 movies). Clearly, females are not as valued as males onscreen, behind‐the-camera, or as consumers of motion picture content. Otherwise, our findings would be different.