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Women Film Critics are Far Outnumbered by Men

New study tracked critics on Rotten Tomatoes

Directing isn’t the only film field in which women are underrepresented. A new study shows that men far outnumber women in film criticism by two to one.

The study, titled, “Thumbs Down 2016: Top Film Critics and Gender,” looked at 5,776 reviews written by 247 “top critics” on film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

Men made up 73 percent of “top critics” on the site, while women represented 27 percent in the category.

The study was released this week by Dr. Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

When looking at the type of publications represented, male reviewers represented 80 percent of those writing for entertainment trade publications. General interest outlets have 76 percent male critics. Movie and entertainment outlets have 74 percent male reviewers and it’s 71 percent men who write for widely circulated newspapers in the U.S.

“The discussion of film in this country remains a heavily male pursuit, reflecting an industry with the same bias,” said Lauzen in a statement. “Women’s underrepresentation among the top critics is not only an employment issue for women who write about film, it also impacts the amount of exposure films with female protagonists receive.”

The study also showed how male critics tend to write less about films featuring a female lead: 34 percent of reviews on those types of films were written by women, but 24 percent were written by men.

The trend cuts both ways: 76 percent of reviews written by men featured male protagonists only, while 66 percent of reviews by female critics featured only male protagonists.

“In addition to having larger budgets than most films with female protagonists, films featuring male protagonists also receive a boost in exposure from the critical community,” said Lauzen.