Celluloid Ceiling: Women Comprised Only 5% of Directors in 2011

A report issued on Tuesday shows that women are dramatically under-represented behind the camera

Women remained vastly underrepresented behind the camera in the movie business in 2011, a study to be released Tuesday shows.

Last year, women comprised 18 percent of directors, executive producers, writers, cinematographers and editors working on the 250 top-grossing domestic films, according to "The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 250 Films of 2011."

The study, by Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, shows that 38 percent of the top 250 films employed either no women or only one as director, executive producer, producer, writer, cinematographer or editor.

That's an increase of 2 percent over 2010, but still a dismal number, Lauzen told TheWrap.

"Women accounted for just 5 percent of directors last year," Lauzen said. "At one point back in 1998, we were up to 9 percent, and so 5 percent — that's almost half of the percentage, and that .. is really troubling."

She explained that the percentage of women in high-ranking behind-the-camera movie jobs has hovered between 16 percent and 19 percent since she started her annual study in 1997.

"This impovershes our culture," she said. "We have a huge gap between the demographic profile of the group that is creating our culture" and the culture in general. Women make up roughly 51 percent of the U.S. population.

Lauzen's study analyzed 2,636 people working on the 250 top-grossing films of 2011.

It found:

>> The percentage of women directors has declined since 1998 while the percentages of women writers and producers have increased slightly. The percentage of women executive producers, editors and cinematographers have remained the same.

>> 94 percent of the top films of 2011 were directed by men.

>> Women made up 14 percent of writers in the top films.

>> 77 percent of the major films of 2011 had no female writers.

>> Women made up 25 percent of all producers on the top 250 films of 2011.

>> Women made up 20 percent of editors in the biggest films of 2011, but 76 percent of those films had no female editors.

>> There were fewer female cinematographers than directors on the top films of 2011: only 4 percent of cinematographers were women.

>> Women were most likely to work in documentaries, dramas and comedies and least likely to work in horror, action and animated films.

Lauzen said that in 2010, when Kathryn Bigelow (above) won the Academy Award for directing "The Hurt Locker," "there were a lot of people saying, 'Gosh, there is going to be this 'Bigelow Effect.' Her win will change peoples' ideas or notions or stereotypes about women who direct, and this is a watershed moment.'"

That didn't happen.

Lauzen said that "if women in film schools see that there aren't many women directing out there, they may choose not to pursue that as a career option."

And movies suffer, she said.

Lauzen said that the lack of women as directors is a problem for the industry — but it's a problem few people acknowledge.

"How many people in the community view women's really dramatic underrepresentation in the film business as a problem?" she asked. "In order to fix something, you have to perceive it as broken. If those in the community do not perceive ths as a problem, then it will never be addressed."