More Women Are in Hollywood Today, But Men Still Bag Major Roles

It wasn’t the first time in the history of Hollywood where all the nominees in the directorial category in 2020 were men, in fact, that has been the norm for years even though there are so many women who have been disrupting the industry with their unconventional roles, both in front of the screen and behind. However, a new study by The Women’s Media Centre, an organization co-founded by actor and activist Jane Fonda, says that there are signs that the gender gap is slowly but surely closing in Hollywood. It revealed that in 2019, 40 percent of the highest-grossing films all featured a woman protagonist which has been the largest percentage in history, and women accounted for 37 percent of major characters.

Male protagonists were much more likely to be shown at work; only over a quarter of the characters who were leaders were women

The study which was titled, “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World” scoured through 2,300 characters and come to the conclusion that even though the gender gap has become smaller, the progress has been painfully slow. Moreover, the problem of gender stereotyping still is rampant, particularly in the portrayal of women. ‘Audiences were told the marital status of 46% of female characters, as opposed to just 34% of male protagonists. Almost three-quarters of male characters had an identifiable occupation compared to fewer than two-thirds of female characters. And male protagonists were much more likely to be shown at work. Only just over a quarter of the characters who were leaders were women.’ Also, audiences were more likely to see a man in a top-grossing film than a woman and as usual dominated action films, while women dominated horror and drama roles; science fiction film fared the worst since women comprised only 8 percent of all roles. Digging deeper it was also found that more than the gender gap, Hollywood does, in fact, have an ageism problem since more than half of all women shown on screen were in the 20s and 30s, while 60 percent of men on screen were in their 30s and 40s. 

The gender of the person behind the camera was the key to achieving parity on screen

However, the good news is that more women directors are coming out of the shadows since women-directed twice as many films in 2019 than in 2018 and one-fifth of all directors, writers, producers, editors, and cinematographers in the top 100 films have been women in 2019, revealed the Celluloid Ceiling report from the Women’s Media Centre. However, in spite of 2019 being such a good year for women in Hollywood, barely any women were nominated at the Golden Globe awards or in the best director category at this year’s Oscars. The research also discovered the gender of the person behind the camera was the key to achieving parity on screen because women behind the camera are more likely to put more women in a film or have it a good gender balance, while male directors have more men in their films and have a skewed gender balance. However, joining Hollywood is also the rest of the global entertainment industry, because women are paid even less in countries like India, which boasts one of the largest entertainment industries in the world. The entertainment industry does play a role in how people’s thoughts and opinions are being shaped and therefore it is vital that there be a better gender balance to change the conventional narrative. 

Image credit: Hollywood Reporter

Related Articles