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Study: Percentage of female directors in Hollywood virtually unchanged in 2015

By Marilyn Malara   |   Jan. 12, 2016 at 12:41 PM
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HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- A new study details the lack of significant changes in workforce gender equality among top Hollywood directors, writers and producers.

The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University recently reported that women made up nine percent of directors for 250 of the top-grossing domestic films in 2015 -- a two percent increase since 2014, but equal to the 1998 rate.

According to the study, women represented 19 percent of the total workforce for those 250 films, including executive producers, editors and writers -- another two percent increase since 2014, but a rate equal to that achieved 14 years ago, in 2001.

Despite the success of Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2), Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Nancy Meyers (The Intern) among other female directors last year, 81 percent the most successful directors were male.

Women fared best in film as producers at 26 percent, editors at 22 percent and executive producers at 20 percent, although they still represented a stark minority in the industry.

The report emerges in a season of heavy discussion of sexism in Hollywood, especially after alleged proof of the issue was publicized due to the Sony Pictures hack in 2014. Stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Rock, Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon, Emma Thompson, Emma Watson and Rose McGowan have sounded off on the issues of a pay-gap and lack of equal opportunity since the incident.

"It takes a long time for big industries to change their behavior," Dr. Martha Lauzen, the study's author, told Variety. "It would be unrealistic to expect that attitudes about women as directors to change over night, but nothing in this data suggests that change is on the horizon."

The Center for the Study of Women at San Diego State University has been recording female representation in the entertainment industry for 17 years. Since they began conducting research, the number of female directors who worked on top films peaked in 2000 at 11 percent.

"There's a lot more dialogue around the issue, but building on that conversation has been incremental and slow," Lauzen said.

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