Male Movie Critics Outnumber Women Nearly 4 to 1, New Study Says

82 percent of top critics on Rotten Tomatoes were also white

USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative

Film critics are still mostly white males, a new study by USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative has found.

The newest study, entitled “Critic’s Choice?”, assessed reviews of the 100 top grossing films of 2017 posted on the site Rotten Tomatoes to determine gender and race/ethnicity of critics.

Of the 19,559 reviews examined, 22.2 percent were written by females, while 77.9 percent were written by males, equaling a gender ratio of 3.55 males to every one female reviewer. The study also found that 18 percent of all reviews were written by critics from underrepresented racial/ethnic backgrounds, while 82 percent were by white critics.

“The very individuals who are attuned to the under and misrepresentation of females on screen and behind the camera are often left out of the conversation and critiques,” said Dr. Stacy Smith, founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. “The publicity, marketing, and distribution teams in moviemaking have an opportunity to change this quickly by increasing the access and opportunities given to women of color as film reviewers.”

Of all reviews, 63.2 percent were written by white males, 18.1 percent by white females, 13.8 percent by underrepresented men and 5.1 percent by underrepresented women.

The study also looked at the “Top Critics” section of the site, and found that 76 percent of all 3,359 reviews were written by men. Only 2.5 percent of the reviews by the top critics were written by women of color. Top film reviews written by white males outnumber reviews written by underrepresented females by almost 27 to 1.

“Even among top critics, the words of white and male critics fill a greater share of the conversation than females and people of color,” added Marc Choueiti, lead author of the study. “Re-examining the definition of a top critic or simply casting a wider net can be the opportunity to open up and diversify the voices heard in the critic space.”

Among the 36 female-driven movies in 2017, 70 percent of those films were reviewed by groups where women amounted to less than 30 percent of its reviewers. Women of color were absent as top critics from the 45 out of the 100 female-driven films analyzed.

“The report reveals the absence of women of color working as reviewers, especially on movies built around female and underrepresented leads,” added Smith.”

White male critics wrote the highest average number of reviews each year, at 14.3, while underrepresented males wrote an average of 11.1. White women wrote an average of 9.4, while underrepresented females only wrote 5.6 reviews.