And the Oscar goes to...

If you are a woman looking to get into the film industry, creatively directing, producing or even writing, don’t expect that the red carpet is going to be laid out for you. The Celluloid Ceiling’s 2011 report has just come out and the data compiled by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen is again screaming “Not Welcome!” Dr. Lauzen, who conducts research on the roles of women in film and television, has provided statistical comparisons that are eye opening.

In this report it is clear that the film industry moves at a snails pace when it comes to the inclusion of women in behind-the-scenes roles. If you take the examples alone that 95% of the top 250 films of 2011 were directed by men or that 77% of those films had no female writers or 38% of films hired 0 – 1 woman in the roles considered, one can only conclude systematic exclusion is still very much alive. It isn’t that women are not enrolling in the cinematic arts programs, they are, or that there is a physical limitation preventing their participation or that women aren’t interested in film and television; that too is a myth.

Even as consumers, when it comes to moviegoers and box office sales, men and women are almost equal in most categories. As for attendance, according to the Motion Picture Association of America’s Theatrical Market Statistics 2010 report, in 2009 women purchased 55% of the movie tickets. By 2010 nearly one million women between the ages of 40 – 49 who previously were considered frequent moviegoers, scaled back their trips to the theaters. We can speculate on why that may be but certainly from the perspective of women’s interest in film, one million paying customers is not something any industry would like to lose.

It’s coming down to numbers but ultimately there is a larger issue that can’t be swept under the rug. Consistently, women are unable to secure employment despite having the credentials, desire and expertise.  Not every woman’s experience with discrimination will be the same, we can always find examples in any industry of women who say “I made it.” However, how many more are standing at the glass peering in with a camera, script or critical eye waiting to be allowed access? Given this latest study and report it would appear there are a hell of a lot of women’s names missing when the film credits roll.

It shouldn’t be an against- the-odds affair, the culture of hiring needs to evolve with the times.  When one gender is controlling the entrance into a field or the advancement of the other gender they are stifling their own growth. The lack of balance and diversity makes its way through the product to the consumer. In an industry where creativity is key you would also think that collaborative and visionary people from all walks of life would be encouraged to become part of the projects.

As consumers we are affected. The majority of programs and films are simply not being produced in a way that represents the efforts of women, no matter how you slice it. Women’s roles are being written, produced and directed by men which is hardly necessary with so many women waiting to be involved. We are allowing this to go on because we have been fed garbage excuses that help protect those in power from opening the doors to women and minorities. Film and television is supposedly designed to speak to, entertain and reach the masses, therefore, protectionism should not be welcome in this arena. It is time for the old white males to move away from the doors and allow talented women to work along side as equals. Maybe then more women who work behind-the-scenes will enjoy a moment of proudly positioning their Oscar on the mantle.

The Numbers – Movie Market Summary 1995 – 2012


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