Women Filled Just 18 Percent of Key Behind-the-Camera Roles in 2017’s Top Films

The latest report on gender equality in the North American entertainment industry published by San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film has found that just 18 percent of key behind-the-camera roles were filled by women in the film industry’s top 250 highest-grossing 2017 releases.

The study, which considers writers, directors, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers as the aforementioned key behind-the-camera roles, also found that only 1% of the top 250 highest grossing movies of 2017 employed 10 or more women in said roles, while 70% of the top 250 employed 10 or more men in key roles.

In total, women accounted for…

11% of all directors
11% of writers
19% of executive producers
25% of producers
16% of editors
4% of cinematographers

30% of all 2017 releases employed zero or 1 woman in any of the listed roles.

Women also accounted for…

3% of all composers
8% of supervising sound editors
5% of sound designers

In the films directed by at least one woman in the top 500 highest grossing movies of 2017, it was found that more of the key roles were filled by women, with female directors working alongside female screenwriters 68% of the time, as compared to the 1% of the time that females filled screenwriting roles in male directed movies.

In referencing an increase in female directors from 7% to 11% between 2016 and 2017, the publisher of the report Dr. Martha Lauzen stated the following:

“2016 was a poor year for women’s employment as directors. Because fewer women directed films in 2016, it would not be surprising to see the percentage rebound in 2017 as a part of the normal fluctuation in these numbers.”

When the survey was started in 1998, the top grossing movies had women in key roles 17% of the time, just 1 percent below the 2017 stat of 18% some 20 years later.

Lauzen believes the lack of progress has contributed to the harassment culture that currently plagues Hollywood:

“The film industry has utterly failed to address the continuing under-employment of women behind the scenes. This negligence has produced a toxic culture that supported the recent sexual harassment scandals and truncates so many women’s careers.”

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