Eight Women Directed a Top 100 Film of 2017, Hollywood Still Male and White, Says New Study
Hollywood is in the process of reckoning with the sexism and racism that has marred the industry since its inception, and gradually things are starting to change for the better. Very. Gradually. All three of 2017’s top-grossing films were directed by a woman, something that hadn’t happened since the ’50s, and according to a new report, women directed eight of the top 100 movies of last year.
Unfortunately, eight out of 100 is pretty good news. USC Annenberg’s second annual “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair” report, an initiative undertaken in 2016 to measure the marginalization of non-white, non-male entities in Hollywood, also found that six black and five Asian directors made it into the Top 100 club. Notably, none of 2017’s top female directors had directed a top 100 movie in the past.
“As we said last year, most female directors are ‘one and done’ when it comes to helming popular films, particularly women from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups,” says Dr. Stacy L. Smith, who runs the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC behind the study. “Real change means that we see women working across multiple years and that the number of opportunities for female directors expand each year.”
The percentage of female directors on the list rose from 4.2 percent to 7.3 percent from 2016 to 2017, but the curve has otherwise been pretty flat throughout the rest of the decade. Women still have much shorter career longevity compared to men, and the statistics of people of color haven’t really improved at all. Of the eight women to make the list, only one, Everything Everything’s Stella Meghie, is black. The rest are white. The study also found that black directors are more often hired for films that feature a black lead or a primarily black cast, which “severely limits how often these individuals can work.” You can dive into the full report over at USC’s website, which shows just how white and male the director’s chair remains.
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