Women Remain Largely Underrepresented Among Directors of Top-Grossing Films

A recent study from the University of Southern California has examined the gender of the directors of the top 1,200 fiction films released in the United States between 2007 and 2018.

Out of the 100 top-grossing films in 2018, only four of the 112 directors or co-directors, or 3.6 percent, were women. Since 2007, only 46 women directed one of the top 1,200 top-grossing films. Additionally, the range of work experience varied greatly by gender. The top performing man, Tyler Perry, directed 17 films, compared to the top performing woman, Anne Fletcher, who directed 4 films. The vast majority, 83 percent, of women directors only made one film within the top-grossing sample in comparison to 54 percent of their male peers.

According to the authors, out of the four women directors in 2018, three were first-time directors, meaning that many of women who have directed top performing films in the past, have not been recruited to direct a film again.

“Until women have the chance to work repeatedly on these larger films, the numbers will remain impervious to change,” the authors wrote. “As the data shows, hiring one female director per year simply is not enough to move the needle.”

When broken down by genre, men were more likely to direct action films than women, with a ratio of 68 to 1. Gender gaps were also observed for science fiction films (34.7 men to 1 woman) and thrillers (44 men to 1 woman). However, women were more likely than men to direct comedies (35.7 percent vs. 25.6 percent) and dramas (33.9 percent vs. 18 percent).

Even though there is a severe gender gap in the entertainment industry, the authors believe the problem can be fixed by studios “setting target inclusion goals, adopting transparency in hiring practices, and calling for broader industry change.”

The full study, Inclusion in the Director’s Chair: Gender, Race, & Age of Directors Across 1,200 Top Films from 2007 to 2018, can be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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