One of the most gender biased industries in the working force is the film industry. It may come as a shock to many, due to the fact that the film industry is oftentimes thought of as to be very progressive and open-minded, however for the past one hundred years, it has been primarily male dominated. It is interesting to look at why Hollywood, an industry that is usually quite progressive, still has it’s gender biases. There have been many cases of women who fall in love with filmmaking and everything about cinema, yet are shut down so many times due to their gender that it causes them to be forced into new career paths, or are told to stop trying because they are told that they can never become the next “Spielberg” or “Gibson.”
In a study from 2014, only 7% of directors were female in the top 250 films of the year. Only 11% of screenwriters were female, only 23% of producers were women, and 5% of cinematographers were women. Only 4 women in the 88 years of the Academy Awards have been nominated for best director, and only 5 of 2015’s highest grossing films featured a female as the main protagonist in the story. In many Television shows and movies, female actors will receive less money than their co-star, even if they have a larger role. Women, in all aspects of filmmaking have been getting lower wages, and significantly less job opportunities than men have.
As an effort to increase the number of women working in the industry, in 2014 a group of women proposed a double mandate system to the Directors Guild of America, that includes two diversity programs. One program includes women of all ethnicities, and the other for any ethnic minority. This would force film crews to hire women, and people of color, which also would give women of color a higher chance of getting hired. This rule was voted down 21-14. In fact one of the heads of the Directors Guild came out and said
“If the guild had a blacklist, Maria Giese would be on it”
(the woman who proposed the double-mandate system). Often times when people try to change things in Hollywood, they are shut down because the industry is known to be quite traditional. The majority of directors and producers are more likely to hire people they are comfortable with, rather than taking risks with a woman. In an interview with Rees Davies, she says
“We have a slew of men who have never directed anything being handed $150 to $200 million budgeted movies. The Hollywood system is, ‘I am a white male in my 50s or 60s, who has had a phenomenal career, and now, I’m going to mentor a younger me.'”
There are many ways that we can help end the gender gap in Hollywood, and the Women In Film organization (AKA “WIF”) are fighting for that.They are a non-profit organization that gives opportunities for young women that they would not normally be given. They use the money they receive in donations and give scholarships to women to help fund their films, or help pay for their film school. Some of their members include Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Sarah Silverman, Gwyneth Paltrow and more. The Women in Film Organization holds key speaker events with some of the most successful women in Hollywood, and gives aspiring female-filmmakers the opportunity to network with them and ask them questions. The ACLU has gotten involved with WIF, and is asking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate Hollywood studios and agencies for violations of the Civil Rights Act. The Women in Film Industry works with the ACLU as well and another simple way that we can help break the gender gap in Hollywood, is to sign the ACLU Petition for women in Hollywood.