|There is a lot to be said about the standing of women in Hollywood. From the #MeToo movement (which is still having seismic impacts on the industry), to the wage gap, women go through a whole lot just to keep their head held high in show business / Photo by: Adrian104 via Wikimedia Commons|
There is a lot to be said about the standing of women in Hollywood. From the #MeToo movement (which is still having seismic impacts on the industry), to the wage gap, women go through a whole lot just to keep their head held high in show business. The most relevant argument is that female equality in the industry will only really be felt if women aren’t just cast in movies to falsify the movement.
Last year, things really felt like they were looking up. According to a study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California, and reported by independent organization World Economic Forum, “women made up 10.6% of directors of the top movies last year.” Compared to records back in 2018, that was “more than double the percentage” and “the highest percentage of female directors in the past decade.”
A Closer Look
A study conducted by Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University also found that “20% of all directors, writers, producers, editors, and cinematographers on the top 10 grossing films of 2019,” in comparison to last year’s numbers which was only at 16%.
While these numbers herald future years of success for female creative minds in Hollywood, there is still so much to be done to truly tip the scales of inequality in the industry. Anyone who claims that the all-female remakes of classic movies mean that gender equality is already achieved in Hollywood is ignoring the crucial fact that true change in the industry means that women should also be given equal opportunities behind the lens, which is the part of the industry that is most male-dominated.
And female directors make amazing movies. This is apparent in the success of movies like “Wonder Woman,” directed by Patty Jenkins, which was the right mix of action and heart, not to mention a movie that handled its female lead character exceptionally well, and the recent “Little Women” by Greta Gerwig.
However, other records in the industry show a clear indication that while women are fighting for a seat at the table of opportunities, their works are still not being duly recognized.
According to Martha Lauzen, men still outnumber women 4 to 1 in “key behind-the-scenes roles.” In fact, just looking at the distinct lack of female director nominees in the recently-concluded Golden Globes shows us that there is still much to be done.
|While these numbers herald future years of success for female creative minds in Hollywood, there is still so much to be done to truly tip the scales of inequality in the industry / Photo by: Filmfestival Linz via Flickr|
Pursuing the Goal
The goal is to make sure female involvement in Hollywood permeates in all aspects and from here on out, it seems women are dedicated to fighting the good fight.
In a corresponding article on the entertainment website Variety, one of the USC study’s authors, Stacy Smith, commended the traction that the movement has been getting in Hollywood. This could be because of the fact that even viewers outside of Hollywood have been having a significant impact on how the industry used to run things.
In recent years, there has been an almost grassroots debate where so many people decried the “lack of opportunities for women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community” in Hollywood. While early efforts felt rather like pandering, the recent efforts have so far appeared genuine.
Smith said there is still room for improvement for these industry moves, and these improvements are crucial if Hollywood truly hopes to equalize the average ratio of 20 male directors to every one female director. That’s just too big a disparity.
Aside from big-budget films, streaming services like Netflix are also seeing the value in diversity, and moving accordingly to genuinely cater to that audience.
According to a report by Quartz, a business-focused English-language international news organization, Netflix has been hiring a more diverse workforce because it better reflects their audience.
|The goal is to make sure female involvement in Hollywood permeates in all aspects and from here on out, it seems women are dedicated to fighting the good fight / Photo by: FICG.mx via Flickr|
Smith says Netflix is doing well by valuing inclusion, and not just inclusion noticeable on the surface. Global technology company Morning Consult, back in 2018, reported that 27% of Netflix’s original films were directed by women, up from just 12% in 2017.
Forty percent of Netflix’s original documentaries were also helmed by female directors, 17% original comedy specials, and 19% original dramas.
Amy Adion, director and producer of “Half the Picture,” a documentary diving deep into Hollywood’s disparate directorial slate, told Morning Consult:
“The particular challenges for women lie in the fundamental fact that women’s work and women’s voices are less valued than men’s in our society as a whole in all realms.”
Adion further explains that this is the reason why women-led and directed films tend to be seen as niche, even though technically, they should just be classified and seen on the same level as male-directed films. Of course, discussions of things like the male and female gaze will always float to the surface, and anyone who’s been keeping their eye on the industry knows that things like these matter.
So far, Netflix seems to be on the right track. From a director slate completely comprised of men in 2013, Netflix has upgraded that slate by adding 36% more female directors for films and other future projects on the pipeline.