The good news is female protagonists in the top 100 domestic films of 2015 increased 10 percent from the previous year. The bad news is 2014’s numbers were exceptionally low.
According to the latest iteration of the study It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World by Dr. Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, women comprised 22 percent of protagonists in the top 100 domestic films of the past year thanks to offerings like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, and Mad Max: Fury Road, among others. Last year, females comprised 34 percent of major characters in those films, up 5 percent from 2014. (For the purpose of the study, a major character is defined as one who appears in more than one scene and is instrumental to the action of the story.)
“We saw marked increase in the percentage of female protagonists last year,” Lauzen commented. “We will need to see a couple more years of data before we’ll know whether this is the beginning of an upward trend or if 2015 was an unusually good but aberrant year for female characters.”
Other finds from the annual study include:
-Females comprised 18 percent of antogonists in 2015.
-Female characters remain younger than their male counterparts. The majority of female characters were in their 20s (24 percent) and 30s (28 percent). The majority of male characters were in their 30s (27 percent) and 40s (30 percent). The percentage of male characters in their 50s (17 percent) is almost twice that of female characters in their 50s (9 percent).
-Thirteen percent of all female characters were black in films surveyed from 2015. Four percent of all female characters were Latina and 3 percent of all female characters were Asian. And female characters of color were less likely to be major characters than white females, according to the study.
-Male characters are more likely to have an unknown marital status (58 percent) but a known occupation (78 percent). Female characters are more likely to have a known marital status (49 percent) and an unknown occupation (61 percent).