Fewer Women Directed Top Films in 2018, Study Finds

Keira Knightley, center, in “Colette,” the rare 2018 film that featured women in key roles behind the scenes.

Women in Hollywood might have stepped to the fore in 2018, advocating for their rights and pressing for equal treatment and better representation, but new research finds that they are making little headway securing key positions in top films.

Women made up just 8 percent of directors on the top 250 films at the domestic box office last year, down from 11 percent the year before, according to a new report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. The 2018 figure also represents a dip from 1998, when women made up 9 percent of directors on that year’s top films.

Small gains were made in other key behind-the-scenes positions, the study found. Women accounted for a greater percentage of producers, executive producers, writers and editors, compared with that number in 2017. The biggest increases were seen in the number of editors (21 percent were women, compared with 16 percent the previous year) and writers (16 percent, up from 11 percent in 2017). Still, the 2018 figures represented just single-digit gains from 1998.

A mere one percent of 2018’s top films featured 10 or more women in the crucial behind-the-scenes roles. Those rare projects included “Colette,” starring Keira Knightley, which was directed by Wash Westmoreland but involved women as writers, producers and more. The study found that a quarter of the top films had either no women in key production jobs, or just one.

“This radical underrepresentation is unlikely to be remedied by the voluntary efforts of a few individuals or a single studio,” Martha Lauzen, executive director of the center, said in a statement. “Without a large-scale effort mounted by the major players — the studios, talent agencies, guilds, and associations — we are unlikely to see meaningful change.”

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Fewer Women Directed Top Films in 2018, Study Finds

Keira Knightley, center, in “Colette,” the rare 2018 film that featured women in key roles behind the scenes.

Women in Hollywood might have stepped to the fore in 2018, advocating for their rights and pressing for equal treatment and better representation, but new research finds that they are making little headway securing key positions in top films.

Women made up just 8 percent of directors on the top 250 films at the domestic box office last year, down from 11 percent the year before, according to a new report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. The 2018 figure also represents a dip from 1998, when women made up 9 percent of directors on that year’s top films.

Small gains were made in other key behind-the-scenes positions, the study found. Women accounted for a greater percentage of producers, executive producers, writers and editors, compared with that number in 2017. The biggest increases were seen in the number of editors (21 percent were women, compared with 16 percent the previous year) and writers (16 percent, up from 11 percent in 2017). Still, the 2018 figures represented just single-digit gains from 1998.

A mere one percent of 2018’s top films featured 10 or more women in the crucial behind-the-scenes roles. Those rare projects included “Colette,” starring Keira Knightley, which was directed by Wash Westmoreland but involved women as writers, producers and more. The study found that a quarter of the top films had either no women in key production jobs, or just one.

“This radical underrepresentation is unlikely to be remedied by the voluntary efforts of a few individuals or a single studio,” Martha Lauzen, executive director of the center, said in a statement. “Without a large-scale effort mounted by the major players — the studios, talent agencies, guilds, and associations — we are unlikely to see meaningful change.”

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