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Hollywood’s Woman Problem: Most Female Directors Made Only One Film in Last Decade

Alarming stats on women and minority directors are unearthed in new USC study

Women directors are rarely given the opportunity to make more than one film over the course of their careers, according to a new study that further demonstrates a gaping gender gap in Hollywood.

Eighty percent of female directors made only one movie in from 2007 to 2016, according to new findings from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative. To compare, 54.8 percent of male directors made just one movie during that same period.

The new data also underscores the short career lifespan experienced by women directors. Their ages range from their thirties to sixties, whereas working male directors’ ages range from twenties to eighties.  

Researchers analyzed the gender, race and age of the directors of the 1,000 highest-grossing films from the last 10 years.

use study women diversity film directors

According to the study, the age range for each gender differed wildly. All of the women who worked in the past 10 years were aged 30 to 60. In contrast, eight men in their twenties and six in their eighties released at least one film during that same span.

Tyler Perry (47) is ranked as the most prolific director of the past decade, having directed 14 features. He’s followed by Clint Eastwood (86), who made eight films during that period.

The highest-ranked woman, Anne Fletcher (50), holds 24th place, with four films. She shares her spot with 31 male directors. Fletcher is best known for 2009’s romantic comedy blockbuster, “The Proposal.”

The study also unearthed that only 35 female directors (vs. 577 male directors) worked on a top-grossing film between 2007 and 2016, which amounts to just four percent.

use study women diversity film directors

No meaningful change has been made in the employment of Black or Asian directors, the study also reported. Just 5.1 percent of directors were Black and three percent were Asian across 1,000 films released in the last decade. Additionally, few Black directors — male and female — worked more than once across the ten years examined.

Review the entire study here.