Last year, film and TV saw historic highs for the inclusion of women working on the top-grossing films of the year, and 2021 promised to increase those numbers.
Even with Chloé Zhao becoming the second woman to win an Oscar for directing Nomadland and being the first woman of color to win the award, and Jane Campion being a front-runner for The Power of the Dog, 2021 saw a slight decline in the number of women directing films, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film’s Celluloid Ceiling report.
The study, conducted by Dr. Martha Lauzen at San Diego State University, discovers that women comprise 25% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 grossing films of 2021. This number is a slight increase from the 23% in 2020.
Credit: Celluloid Ceiling Report of 2021
A closer look at the 25% inclusivity number finds that women working as directors on the top 250 and 100 films of 2021 has fallen from 18% to 17%.
Dr. Lauzen stated, “Basing our perceptions of how women are faring on the well-deserved fortunes of just a few high-profile women can lead us to inaccurate conclusions about the state of women’s employment. Once again this year, more than 80 percent of films do not have a woman at the helm.”
Although the number of female directors declined, the percentage of women writers stayed even with 2020 at 17%, as did the number of women working as cinematographers (6%) and editors (22%). Women made up 26% of executive producers (up from 21% in 2020), and 32% of producers (up from 30% in 2020).
Similar to last year, this year’s study included the Digital Entertainment Group’s Watched at Home list from January through December 2021 to track women’s employment on films through the second year of the pandemic.
The majority of the percentages of women working on films on the Watched at Home list were slightly below those on the box office gross list, but the list doesn’t include premium digital rentals (VOD) or most streamed films on streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.
Female directors received high-profile notoriety from Netflix with Campion’s Power of the Dog, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter, Halle Berry’s Bruised, and Rebecca Hall’s Passing.
BTS with director, Rebecca Hall, on her film, 'Passing'Credit: Netflix
Overall, the number of women working on the top 250 films of 2021 compared to men is still staggering, showcasing that 75% of behind-the-scenes jobs in 2021 are held by men.
The report reveals 94% of the top 250 films had no women cinematographers, 82% had no women directors, 73% had no women editors, and 72% had no women writers.
Hopefully in 2022, the number of women working behind-the-scenes jobs sees an increase, creating a new historical high as we fight for equal representation in the film industry.
Let us know in the comments your thoughts on this year’s Celluloid Ceiling report!