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Study Finds That Women Are Still Woefully Under-Represented in Film

Sofia Coppola
Focus Features

With all the jokes about girlfriends and wives dragging men against their will to see the latest girly rom-com, you’d think women were a bigger part of film — the truth is, they’re still being woefully under-represented on screen and behind the scenes.

The LA Times Blog reports on a recent study done by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, in which they took a look at the top 100 grossing films last year and found that women only accounted for 33% of all characters on screen, while women currently make up 51% of the world’s population.

In the report, titled “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World,” research showed that only 11% of the women in last year’s films were “clearly identifiable protagonists,” as opposed to 16% during the last study in 2002. Martha Lauzen, executive director of the center notes, “while there are more female characters on screen today, fewer stories are told from a female character’s perspective,” thus there are fewer characters for women to identify with on screen, making the discrepancy between females on screen to real women in the audience seem even more vast.

The LA Times Blog recalls the center’s January study, which found that women only make up “18% of all directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors working on the 250 highest-grossing movies last year.” The lack of female presence behind the scenes might account for that discouraging 33% statistic of women on screen.

We often wonder why more women aren’t involved in making films — is it because there are fewer trying to get involved? Are they discouraged by the decades-long status quo and thus resigned to not even try at all? Or is sexism still alive and kicking in Hollywood, just like it is in most industries? While no one would ever openly cop to sexism, the latter may very well be true.

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