New study reveals fewer women working behind the scenes in Hollywood

Kathryn Bigelow remains the only woman to win the Oscar for directing. A 2017 study revealed that just 7% of 2016's top 250 films were directed by women.
(Matt Sayles / AP)

San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film released its annual Celluloid Ceiling report Thursday morning, revealing that women constituted just 17% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films in 2016.

The numbers underscore the public outcry for a more diverse Hollywood, both in front of and behind the scenes. Women directed just 7% of the top 250 films last year, a 2% drop from 2015 and 1998, the first year the study was conducted.

“The drop in numbers is remarkable considering the context of the ongoing EEOC investigation and all of the talk about the need for greater inclusion in the film industry,” Dr. Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, who authored the report, told The Times.


“The current small-scale remedies, such as the shadowing and mentoring programs, may benefit handfuls of individuals, but they fail to recognize the magnitude and scope of the problem,” said Lauzen.

The Celluloid Ceiling has tracked women’s employment in the industry’s top 250 films since 1998, last year expanding its research to also examine the subsets of top 100 and top 500 films.

The figures in Lauzen’s report are concerning but perhaps even more striking are the numbers of films without women behind the scenes.

Some 92% of 2016’s 250 top grossing films had no female directors, 77% had no female writers, 79% had no female editors and a galling 96% had no female cinematographers.

“The bottom line is that women working in important behind-the-scenes roles have yet to benefit from this public and industry dialogue,” said Lauzen.

See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour »