Hollywood’s Women Discuss Their Prospects

Elle magazine’s sub headline on its December 7 article written by Lauren Puckett-Pope and Juliana Ukiomogbe says it well: “Behind the camera, prospects for gender parity remain bleak—so these women are fighting to reverse course.” Their article interviews 26 women working in the film industry about the state of women in Hollywood today. 

As the writers point out, Greta Gerwig’s big summer hit with “Barbie” can skew public perception about the strides women have made in Hollywood. Among those interviewed was Martha M. Lauzen, San Diego State University professor who is founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.  Each year, the Center publishes an updated study about the status of women in the television and film industry, a study that CASCADIA references frequently.

As Lauzen told the writers:  “We don’t want to think that we have seen such minimal progress in a quarter of a century,”  Lauzen adds. “But the numbers tell the story. The numbers don’t lie.”

 “In 2022, only 9% of directors hired across the 100 top fictional films were women.”

-USC Annenberg Inclusion initiative study

USC Study Tracks Women in Top 100 Films

The article also refers to USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative which publishes an annual study headed by researcher Stacy L. Smith to analyze the participation of women in the 100 highest-earning fictional films. According to that study, “In 2022, only 9% of directors hired across the 100 top fictional films were women.” The study goes on to note that this is an increase of exactly 1 percent from the number of female directors in 2008—14 years earlier

Gains have been made, however. The UCSD study found: “For the first time since women’s representation at festivals has been tracked, the gender gap disappeared entirely for documentary features, with festivals  streaming/screening equal numbers of films directed by men and women in 2022-23.”

CASCADIA, of course, showcases only films directed by women to provide a platform and raise public and audience awareness for their work and the continued need for parity for women in the film industry, particularly for those working behind the camera.