During the Pandemic, Women Made Gains Both Behind and in Front of the Hollywood Camera

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed that in 2020 when the pandemic was raging across the United States, there was a significant increase in diversity in the film and television industries.

Of the top 185 films of 2020, more than half were released via streaming platforms only. The report found that women gained ground in all job categories tracked by the report: lead actors, total cast, writers, and directors.

In 2020, women make up 47.8 percent of the lead actors in the 185 top-grossing films. Women were 41.3 percent of all actors in these films.

Women made progress behind the camera as well. But women are still underrepresented as film writers and directors and typically directed lower-budget films. Despite progress, women made up just 26 percent of film writers and just 20.5 percent of the directors. Nearly three-quarters of all films directed by women had budgets that were less than $20 million, compared to 59.2 percent for directors who were men. In 2020, nearly all of the films with a female director also featured a female lead actor

“Our report finds that women directors have overwhelmingly diverse productions,” said Ana-Christina Ramon, the report’s co-author and the director of research and civic engagement for the division of social sciences at UCLA. “However, these films often have smaller budgets than those helmed by male directors. So, in a year where more diverse productions were made more accessible to larger audiences through streaming services, the contrast is stark as to what types of films have the big budgets. There is a clear underinvestment of films made by, written by, and led by women.”

Dr. Ramon is a graduate of Stanford University. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan.

Filed Under: DiversityResearch/Study


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