In some ways, 2017 was a big year for female filmmakers, as directors like Patty Jenkins, Greta Gerwig, and Dee Rees achieved critical and box office success across genres. But a new study has found that the percentage of women working on films in behind-the-scenes roles has remained virtually unchanged in the last 20 years.
Women made up only 18 percent of all the directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers on 2017’s top 250 films — a percentage that has remained almost constant since the study began in 1998. The “Celluloid Ceiling” study, which is released annually by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, also found that only 1 percent of the year’s top films employed 10 or more women — whereas 70 percent employed 10 or more men.
The study focuses on the year’s top 250 highest-grossing domestic films, and it found a minor uptick in the number of female directors: Women directed 11 percent of the year’s top 250 films, up from 7 percent last year but the same as the percentage achieved in 2000.
“The film industry has utterly failed to address the continuing underemployment of women behind the scenes,” the study’s author, Martha M. Lauzen, said. “This negligence has produced a toxic culture that supported the recent sexual harassment scandals and truncates so many women’s careers.”
The study’s findings comes as prominent women in Hollywood have increasingly called for gender parity behind the camera. Actresses, filmmakers, executives, and activists recently launched the Time’s Up movement, and its goals include an end to sexual harassment across industries and increased gender equality.