Academic Study Finds Dearth of Women as Directors of Major Hollywood Films

Women held the spotlight at the Golden Globes Awards ceremony on January 7. But not one of the nominees for a Golden Globe in the director category was a woman.

A new study led by Stacy L. Smith, an associate professor of communication at the University of Southern California and the director of the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, shows that women are directors of only a small number of Hollywood films. The data shows that of 100 top grossing films each year during the 2007-to-2017 period, women directed only 43 films, or 4 percent of the total. Only 16.3 percent of women directors had more than one film among the top-grossing productions. For men 44.7 percent directed more than one film.

“Hollywood’s ‘female director problem’ has been the source of much dialogue over the past several years,” Dr. Smith said. “The evidence reveals that despite the increased attention, there has been no change for women behind the camera. Mere conversation is not the answer to these problems — and the time for conversation is up. Until major media companies take concrete steps to address the biases that impede hiring, nothing will change.”

Dr. Smith joined the faculty at the University of Southern California in 2003. She holds a Ph.D. in communication and human development from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The full study, Inclusion in the Director’s Chair? Gender, Race, and Age of Directors in 1,100 Films From 2007 to 2017, may be downloaded by clicking here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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