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Dinosaurs and superheroes

December 8, 2015

Why aren’t more women directing in Hollywood?

NYT Mag cover - women in HollywoodWhy does the male-dominated Hollywood film industry stop many women from advancing to the top echelons as film directors and studio heads? Columnist Maureen Dowd exposed the many reasons in the Nov. 22, 2015, New York Times Magazine cover story.

The article comes on the heels of Patricia Arquette’s bold statement at last year’s Oscars about women actors being paid less than men. It also follows a 1985 test created by Alison Bechdel that assesses the gender aspects of women’s literature and film roles. Dowd confirms that from 2007 through 2014 “women made up only 30.2 percent of speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing fictional films.”

Dowd further analyzes the sexism inherent in film production, including casting but importantly in the choosing directors. In “Waiting for the Green Light,” she notes that “All around Hollywood, women are ready to run studios, director blockbuster pictures and write stories that go beyond dinosaurs and superheroes.” The big question: “What will it take to dismantle the pervasive sexism that keeps them from doing it?”

Piercing Hollywood’s star-maker machinery with statistics gathered by several researchers, Dowd reveals the following:

* “In both 2013 and 2014, women were only 1.9 percent of the directors for the 100 top-grossing films.”

* “Excluding art-house divisions, the six major studios released only three movies last year with a female director.”

* In 2014, “95 percent of cinematographers, 89 percent of screenwriters, 82 percent of editors, 81 percent of executive producers and 77 percent of producers were men.”

* A recent Directors Guild of America analysis of 277 television series found that “women directed only 16 percent of episodes.”

The figures are damning and the losers are not just the talented women filmmakers. We the viewers are missing out on some fabulously creative work on the silver screen. And, as Dowd states, “movies aimed at women or directed by women can make a ton of profit.”

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