New Study Finds Female Directors of Top Movies Rise To Where They Were in 1998

The situation improved slightly over 2014 but Hollywood still has plenty of work to do when it comes to hiring women

It’s a tale as old as time. Women don’t write/direct/produce enough movies. The system is rigged in favor of Hollywood’s old boys network. That’s the bad news. The good news is, it’s getting better. Slightly.

According to the 18th annual Celluloid Ceiling report, the number of female directors working on last year’s top 250 domestic grossing films rose from 7 percent in 2014 to 9 percent in 2015. While that may be an improvement, the advancement isn’t nearly enough, especially when 9 percent remains even with the percentage achieved in 1998. Seventeen years later, Hollywood seems to be stuck in neutral.

In other off-camera roles, women accounted for 11 percent of writers, 20 percent of executive producers, 26 percent of producers, 22 percent of editors, and 6 percent of cinematographers.

Overall, women comprised 19 percent of individuals working in the filmmaking roles considered. Again, that represents an increase of 2 percentage points from 2014, but remains even with the figure obtained in 2001.

The results were announced by Dr. Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

“The numbers for 2015 indicate little change in women’s behind-the-scenes employment,” said Lauzen. “The celluloid ceiling remains a reality for women working in this community.”

The study also revealed that movies with at least one female director employ higher percentages of female writers, editors, and cinematographers than films with exclusively male directors.

For example, on films with female directors, women represented 53 percent of writers, while women accounted for only 10 percent of writers on films with male directors.

“When women are in a gateway role, such as director, they may open the door to opportunities for other women,” explained Lauzen.

The Celluloid Ceiling is the longest-running and most comprehensive study of women’s behind-the-scenes employment in film available. It’s clearly important to the future of Hollywood, which must be familiar with and grow from its mistakes in order to improve for the next generation of female filmmakers.