January 11, 2018
news

In 2017, Women Were Hired For Only 18% of Behind-the-Scenes Jobs

Just 1% of films employed 10 or more women, while 70% of films employed 10 or more men. 

2017 may have been a banner year for victims of sexual assault in Hollywood, but men still aren't hiring women in the film industry, according to Dr. Martha Lauzen's annual "Celluloid Ceiling" report.

The study, which Dr. Lauzen conducted for the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, analyzed 3,011 jobs among last year's 250 top-grossing films. It found that 88% of these films featured no female directors, 83% had no female writers, 80% had no women editors, and 96% had no female cinematographers. The striking disparity is perhaps most digestible when broken down into smaller numbers: Just 1% of films employed 10 or more women, while 70% of films employed 10 or more men.

Courtesy of UCLA Center for the Study of Women.

While still underemployed, women fared best as producers (24%), followed by executive producers (15%). The largest percentage of women, relative to men, worked in documentaries (30%), followed by comedies (23%), dramas (22%), sci-fi features (20%), animated features (19%), horror features (18%), and action features (13%).

Arguably, the study's most resonant finding is that film productions with female directors were significantly more likely to hire women in behind-the-scenes roles. For example, on female-directed films, writers were 68% female, compared with 8% for films directed by men.

The percentage of women hired in film jobs hasn't increased in the 20 years that Dr. Lauzen has conducted her study. In 1998, behind-the-scenes jobs were held by 17% of women.     

Your Comment

28 Comments

You cant talk about equity in film without bringing up race.

January 11, 2018 at 1:08PM

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Walter Wallace
Spokesperson/Entrepreneur
1134

Thank you! For some reason no one is talking about race for behind the scenes jobs. Far too often when I step on set I'm the only person black person behind the camera. Even when I'm working hip-hop videos with a decent budget I'll be 1 of 3 people of color on sets. It seems the bigger the shoot the less color I see. When I see set photos of all women crews I rarely see women of color.

January 11, 2018 at 7:18PM

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Skylar V Smith
Director/Editor/D.I.T
81

Assuming you are in the U.S, you do know that African Americans make up only 13% of the population right? Not sure why it would be weird for you to be the only one behind the camera, unless you are actively judging people based on their skin color. You should spend more time thinking about people's talent on set and not their melanin levels.

January 12, 2018 at 2:40PM

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Mitch S
12

Blacks make 13% of population in the US but 38% of the population in Los Angeles, which is where I live. Have you ever worked on a gig in LA with a crew of over 40 people that was 38% black? Or even 13% black? How about you try asking questions first before making uninformed comments. Also my main point was to highlight the lack of color on set, not only black people.

January 12, 2018 at 7:04PM, Edited January 12, 7:20PM

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Skylar V Smith
Director/Editor/D.I.T
81

What is the difference between making this point and making the same point by way of gender, or even tall men, or fat ones? Isn't it just a case of finding an ideological flag to rally under?

Can anyone show that that many people of color, or women, or whatever flag, tried to work and were rejected based on their skin color, gender, etc?

Absent those data, how could one rationally conclude what appears to have been irrationally concluded above, which is that there is a conspiracy?

January 13, 2018 at 8:18AM, Edited January 13, 8:23AM

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The study doesn't make any sense until we can know for sure what percentage of women applied for those jobs. People should be hired because of what they can do, not because their sex.

January 11, 2018 at 3:54PM

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Vincent Galiano
Filmmaker / Screenwriter / Photographer
220

Okay, but this means nothing unless you tell us how many women were seeking these positions. Similarly, the "women directors hired more women" statistic can either mean that women don't have this anti-female bias you're suggesting or that both sexes are biased towards their own sex. The latter of which makes more sense to me because this "similarity bias" is something that humans have naturally.

January 11, 2018 at 4:39PM

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Adam Hocutt
total, utter noob
279

Well, that plus the popular narrative of 'patriarchy'. If one subscribes to that, one is likely to try to organize a 'matriarchy' in response.

January 12, 2018 at 9:47AM

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Wait, Not ME, are you honestly contesting the very existence of a patriarchy? Adam, it may be reductive to say that women hiring women is simply a "similarity bias" given the extreme inequality. There are a number of reasons that a woman with hiring power might be more open to giving another woman a shot. I could guess at some of the factors, but that's all it would be. Woman face many double-standards most of these double standards are invisible to men, we don't see how other's are treated. Woman are accused of not getting along with other women (as if men always got along with one another) and then in this case you're implying that women are giving preferential treatment to other women. Suddenly all the white males are calling for an absolute meritocracy, convinced that they're probably the most talented hardworking or creative people in the room. If you believe that most of us were born with about the same capacity for smarts, artistic sensibilities, work ethic etc, then that hypothesis is very unlikely.

January 12, 2018 at 3:48PM

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scott pommier
Director
167

Sorry about the Not ME - was frustrated trying to get the website to function yesterday while trying to create an account.

No. There is no utility in contesting the 'patriarchy' narrative within this context. It is sufficient to ask the question of the 'matriarchy' narrative as an alternative to, or a supplement for the 'similarity bias' thesis.

Everyone thinks they are the most talented, hardworking, or creative people in the room. Holding this to be true is human, not a sign of gender or racial bias.

January 13, 2018 at 8:31AM

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In light of the recent avalanche of (unproven) accusations of sexual harassment, as a result of which many men have been fired without going to court, why would anyone want to take the extra risk and hire more women? In art there is no sex preference or race card, you can either do things well or you can't, so despite of the whole charade it ultimately comes down to skill, not skin.

January 11, 2018 at 5:22PM

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Pavel Tsvetkov
Producer/Director/Writer
81

Well said!

January 11, 2018 at 6:28PM, Edited January 11, 6:28PM

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MG
90

Pavel, in many of these cases the men involved have not wanted to go to court. They are not claiming that they were wrongly terminated. In many of the public cases they have issued apologies and have stepped down. Suggesting that hiring women is an extra risk would seem to imply that either men are unable to stop the abuse that is clearly widespread or that women are somehow a liability since they are unwilling to suffer abuse in silence. There is ample evidence to support the fact that having more women in the workplace reduces the number of incidents. So the idea that we should keep women out in case they make "unproven accusations" would appear to be a poor strategy, in addition to being, sexist, illegal and unconstitutional. A comment like that also goes a long way in demonstrating how the environment for women in the workplace can be hostile even when there isn't overt sexual harassment.

January 11, 2018 at 6:36PM

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scott pommier
Director
167

Well said!

January 11, 2018 at 6:45PM

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What he does not suggest, but states explicitly, is that it is the avoidance of due process and/or standards of evidence in the pursuit of outcomes that is the contributor to a sense of risk.

It is a rational strategy, though probably not likely in the current US climate, to limit risk at the source. Companies can control who they hire. It is harder to control the degradation of institutions under sustained assault for ideological ends.

Hostility for the latter cannot be conflated with hostility towards a gender, skin color, or whatever other banner one is rallying under on a given day.

January 13, 2018 at 8:36AM, Edited January 13, 8:37AM

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To all those defending the film industry's appalling record on hiring women by suggesting that there aren't that many women applying to work industry, I bring you this article: http://www.mtv.com/news/2159771/female-directors-college/
To the guy who suggested that recent sexual harassment allegations make it too "risky" to hire women, I would suggest that as women are much less likely to sexually harass people, they would be a safer bet. The film industry needs to get it's house in order.

January 11, 2018 at 6:28PM

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Can one both observe that women have not ever been hired in representative numbers, then turn around and conclude that they would therefore not harass in the same or greater numbers? How does one follow the other? How would you respond to the question of the lesser number of cases reported being because of a lack of opportunity for women to harass?

The article you post admits that the number of women graduating has been growing over time. There hasn't always been a 50% female grad data point. Even if that number were historically constant, it would be irrelevant given that you would have to show women trying to work then being blocked based on gender.

January 13, 2018 at 8:42AM

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I think more females are wanting to be on screen rather than off screen. May be that is the reason.
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January 11, 2018 at 10:01PM

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Muhammad Bilal
Freelance web designer
81

so your theory is that we don't have women working as crew, because women on the whole would prefer to be actors?

January 12, 2018 at 3:50PM

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scott pommier
Director
167

I think its basic numbers. Nearly every freelance cameraman we can find with experience is a man. Almost every editor/motion designer the agency sends us is a guy. The graphic designers are exclusively women. The studios we work with have mostly guys, with women filling the producer/admin/scripting roles. On the bigger crews I've never seen a hint of sexism or anyone being demeaned personally, that they didn't deserve=) The DP blasted all his guys over something that wasn't happening when he wanted.

Nothing stops any female from learning to edit, learning lighting, going to school and getting out there. NOTHING.

January 12, 2018 at 4:12PM

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Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
944

it's important to realize that as a man, some of the sexism that women experience is invisible to us. either because it occurs when we aren't in the room, or because it flies under our radar. why are script supervisors more often women and DITs more often men? are those career aptitudes coded in our DNA or is there a social element? why is there a correlation between the roles that women tend to occupy and lower pay? read the comments above, look at the reasons offered up for why there are fewer women in film.

"they'd rather be in front of the camera"
"men hire men, women hire women, it's natural"
"women are more likely to accuse someone of sexual abuse."
"i've never even seen sexism, women just seem to prefer to work in admin positions."
and of course
"there probably aren't even that many women who want to be in film."

January 13, 2018 at 1:59AM

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scott pommier
Director
167

Even if you could show that your assertion is valid, what of it?

I don't need to go to Paris to know that Paris exists, I simply need evidence and data to draw a rational conclusion, no?

This is a pretty basic epistemological point.

January 13, 2018 at 8:45AM

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January 12, 2018 at 9:09AM

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When I've worked on large commercial shoots or small features there is an obvious 32 year old white guy demographic. There are few 50-60 yo crew members but they were often the dads of the 32 year old guys...Women were more on the producer / client side, HMUA, wardrobe or script spv. Some directors too. Yes, there were a few women working in the camera department, many more in LA than in Detroit where I came from. The same is true on high end commercial adv photoshoots. Very, very few people of color.
A lot of crews are tight networks and generational things - sort of like big city fire departments. Just one semi outsiders opinion.

January 13, 2018 at 2:38AM, Edited January 13, 2:41AM

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MikeD
82

Tiresome. So we should hire based on gender to make things even? Never mind ability or what might work best for a set? What are the numbers of men vs women in the film industry? 80% of the people I see and deal with on New Zealand crews are men. There are less women crew members available. Men seem to dominate the industry. But that does not seem to compute with this current agenda of women no matter what. The preference is equality of numbers as opposed to meritocracy. The number of women only festivals is now over one hundred. Can you name any festivals that only submit male filmmakers? Cause I can't name one. That is actual discrimination isn't it? Or is it hypocrisy time? Lacking in logic and perspective as always on this topic.

January 14, 2018 at 4:14PM

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Mike Murphy
Film maker
100

It does not matter the gender, race, etc of the people you hire - as long as you are hiring the most skilled and capable person for the job.

People like to "discuss" equality in a way in which you should hire an equal number of males/females, blacks/whites, etc, but fail to see that by hiring someone because of their sex or skin colour - in the process foregoing their skills and experience in an attempt to be "diverse" - is inherently UNEQUAL.

Also, this article does not convey the percentages of men/women applying for these positions - I would wager that those percentages would be almost representational of the statistics provided.

If the statistics showed that women were losing out on jobs to men despite being more suitable for the job, then I would be up in arms too. However, we simply do not have these numbers, so therefore readers cannot and should not jump to the conclusion that this is a purely discriminatory disparity.

January 15, 2018 at 5:32AM, Edited January 15, 5:34AM

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Greg B
25

Wow, this comment thread really proves the point of the article. Problems abound, and yet people are very resistant to seeing them as legitimate problems and dealing with them in a thoughtful way.

One suggestion for men (and I'm a man): when you think about gender stats, imagine the numbers were reversed, so *men* were only hired for 18% of behind the scenes jobs. And ask yourself if your arguments about women not being hired for legitimate reasons (they don't want the jobs, don't have the skills, whatever) still make sense to you when applied to men. Same with race.

It's a simple mental trick, but switching out the gender/race/etc. of your argument and then seeing if you still agree with it, and if not, *why* not, can really help reveal your hidden assumptions and unacknowledged ideas.

January 18, 2018 at 8:38AM

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Benjamin Reichman
Post Supervisor/AE/Editor
348

No film school (and to the editor Emily Buder).... may I kindly ask what is the point of posting articles like this? The point of articles like this makes me think of someone trying to pick a fight when there is really none to fight for. A job is a job, as far as I see (i work in both union work and independent), it's purely about what you can do and who you know, not about making this into a scene and act like people in the industry are intentionally making it into a sexist (also in some cases, racist) scene. I'm asian, I really don't see a lot of asians in both behind and in front of the cameras, but I NEVER trying to make a status about it and make it seem like its a racist thing. So please, have yourself a little respect and don't post things like this and trying to fight a fight that doesn't (and shouldn't) exist.

January 21, 2018 at 3:47PM, Edited January 21, 3:48PM

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David Yao
Director of Photograhy / Camera Assistant
168

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June 19, 2018 at 2:46AM

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makwan
1