Male Film Critics Outnumber Women 2 to 1 – And Are Less Likely to Mention Female Directors, Study Says

Female critics also give better reviews on average to films with female protagonists, study says

director chair gender female director

Male film critics still greatly outnumber women in the field, which adversely impacts exposure and recognition female-driven films and/or those directed by women receive, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film, found that across every type of media outlet, male film critics outnumber female critics by approximately 2 to 1 — men comprised 68 percent of the reviewers during spring 2018, while women made up 32 percent.

“These gender imbalances matter because they impact the visibility of films with female protagonists and/or women directors, as well as the nature of reviews,” said Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film, in a statement. “Something as simple as the mention of a director’s name in a review, and labeling that individual as a ‘master’ of the filmmaking craft can help shape the narrative surrounding that director”

According to the study, during the period analyzed men wrote 71 percent of all reviews, while women accounted for 29 percent.

The study found that with films directed by women, female critics were more likely than men to mention the name of the director, and to use exclusively positive comments when talking about her skills, work, and vision. Women reviewers, on average, also awarded higher ratings than men to films with female protagonists.

In contrast, male writers are more likely than females to use exclusively complimentary words and phrases when talking about male directors.

The study looked at 4,111 reviews written by 341 critics writing for print, broadcast, and online outlets whose work was included on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes during the spring 2018.

Not to be overlooked, 83 percent of the female critics the study found were white, 14 percent were minorities, and 3 percent had unknown racial or ethnic identity. The disparity among male critics is similar with 82 percent of all male critics being white, 9 percent minorities and the other 9 percent having unknown racial or ethnic identity.