The Hollywood Gender Gap Statistic No One Talks About

What does a director look like? Not too long ago, Refinery29 actually took to the streets to ask people if they could name a female director. Tarantino, Spielberg, and Scorsese were all accounted for, but no women. Why is this? It's not like they aren't women behind the camera making great work.

If you take a look at research done by the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film (CSWTF), there are some glaring numbers we can't afford to ignore anymore. According to the center's research, women made up 13% of directors on the 700 highest-grossing theatrically released films in 2014 — and only half of those women (7%) were included in the top 250 films. There are also major disparities in terms of characters who appear on screen, people working in production, and even in media coverage of movies. For example, men make up 73% of the top film critics, leaving women at 27% — we are are not judged by an equal group of our peers.

The more representation we have behind the camera, the more we will see the true experiences of women reflected on screen, without characters being reduced to one-dimensional stereotypes who are only defined by their marital status or their relation to the male protagonist. In the last 19 years of prime-time television, women have made few strides. Women only make up 16% of characters on television shows with a featured cast, according to CSWTF. The center's study also showed that when women were in the director's chair or acted as executive producers, the number of women on screen jumped to 41%. We are making inroads, but we still need a permanent seat at the table.

Director Jessica Sanders
is set on changing this. Sanders was one of the directors included in R29's Shatterbox Anthology, and she was one of the 20 directors chosen to participate in Fox’s Inaugural Global Directing Initiative, designed to foster upcoming and established directors from diverse backgrounds. The list of directors "featured an incredible group of highly accomplished women directors from around the world," says Sanders.

As an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and award-winning commercial director (her bio is rife with accolades), Sanders is well versed in the ways women are treated and represented in film — and she is certainly doing her part to forge forward progress. Her short film Fox Directors showcases the female directors from Fox’s Inaugural Global Directing Initiative as they tell amazing stories and push to change the statistics. As an activist filmmaker, Sanders wants to use this short film to provoke conversation about gender disparities in Hollywood.

"I directed this short film Fox Directors to highlight these filmmakers and their work, and to create a visual story to express 'what does a director look like.' With the recent federal investigation into the unequal hiring practices in Hollywood (only 7% of Hollywood feature films are directed by women), this is my contribution to bring awareness and change, and to support inclusive filmmaking with so many talented voices and films that the world needs to know about and see," Sanders says.

So the next time you're asked to name a female director, know that they are out there making films and pushing us forward: Jennifer Arnold, Shaz Bennett, Bert & Bertie, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Marta Cunningham, Cherien Dabis, Hannah Fidell, Sydney Freeland, Rachel Lee Goldenberg, Steph Green, Maggie Kiley, Kimberly Levin, Anja Marquardt, Isidora Maras, Amanda Marsalis, Catalina Aguilar Mastretta, Meera Menon, Vanessa Parise, Jessica Sanders, Susan Youssef.

Enjoy the above short film Fox Directors by director Jessica Sanders.

Women accounted for only
13% of the directors on the 700 top grossing films in 2014 — and only 7% of the top 250 films. Refinery29 wants to change this by giving 12 female directors a chance to claim their power. Our message to Hollywood? You can't win without women. Watch new films every month on Refinery29.com/Shatterbox and Comcast Watchable.
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