Women made up only 4% of the directors of this decade’s thousand highest-grossing films, a new study conducted by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has found. This translates to a ratio of 24 male directors to every one female director. “Behind the camera, directing is predominantly an occupation held by white males,” Stacy L Smith, a USC professor and co-author of the report, told Deadline.
The figures in the ‘Inclusion in the Director’s Chair?’ report indicate a worse scenario for female directors from minority communities – only three of these thousand movies were directed by African-American women, three by Asian women and one by a Latina. “For the last decade, female directors of colour have been nearly invisible in the director’s chair. The data speaks loud and clear. When Hollywood thinks female director, they think ‘white woman’,” Smith said.
The study reveals that minority female directors continue to be the industry’s most underemployed professionals. “When only seven directing opportunities across thousand go to women of colour, hiring practices need to change. The experiences of white women differ dramatically from women of colour,” Smith added.
Besides colour, age is another hindering factor that applies to women more than men. “Male directors work on top-grossing films even when they are 80. Females, in contrast, work across just four decades – their 30s to their 60s,” the study found.
With respect to genre, women remained mostly restricted to drama, comedy and animated features. While they directed a few thriller and action movies in this 10-year period, only one horror film had a woman’s direction behind it. Men, on the other hand, work across all genres, the report said.
Among the big production houses, Warner Bros’ films had the highest number of women in the director’s chair between 2007 and 2016, followed by 20th Century Fox, Universal and Sony Pictures.
Moreover, African-American directors across gender face a number of challenges in the movie-making field. When they do get a chance to direct a film, they mostly deal with African-American themes. “These findings suggest that black directors are attached to content that aligns with their racial identity, rather than their talent,” the report said.
Asians and Asian-American directors were found to be in no better position. Only 3% of all directors of the thousand top films in the last 10 years were Asian. “There has been no change in the percentage of Asian directors from 2007 to 2016,” the report concluded.