DVD Release DateNew study claims Hollywood's commitment to increasing diversity by hiring more women...

New study claims Hollywood’s commitment to increasing diversity by hiring more women and people of color was merely symbolic

  • The entertainment industry’s efforts towards diversity and inclusivity are largely performative and lack real change.
  • Women continue to be underrepresented in key roles behind the camera, with only 16% of directors being female in 2023’s top 250 grossing films.
  • The success of female-directed films like Greta Gerwig’s Barbie does not indicate a significant shift in Hollywood’s gender disparity.

Despite increased calls for diversity and inclusivity within the entertainment industry, two new reports suggest that little progress has been made regarding gender and racial disparity in Hollywood. A study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative labels the industry’s diversity pledges as “performative” and “not real steps towards fostering change.” This conclusion is supported by a separate study conducted by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

The study from San Diego State University examined the teams behind 2023’s top 250 grossing films and found that women represented only 16% of the directors, a decrease from 18% in 2022. Overall, women accounted for just 22% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on these projects, down from 24% in 2022.

USC’s report noted some improvement in women directors working on the top 100 grossing films, with 12% directed by women in 2023, up from 9% in 2022. However, the numbers for women of color directing these projects are more disappointing, with only four women, accounting for 3.4% of directors in this category, and no change from the previous year.

Although 2023 was a notable year for female filmmakers with Greta Gerwig’s Barbie being the highest-grossing film directed by a woman, this success does not represent significant change in the industry. Other successful female-directed films include Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, Celine Song’s Past Lives, Kelly Fremon Craig’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla. However, Dr. Martha Lauzen, the author of the San Diego State University report, stated, “The numbers tell the story. Behind-the-scenes gender ratios in Hollywood remain dramatically skewed in favor of men.”

In an interview, Sofia Coppola mentioned experiencing difficulties in obtaining budgets comparable to male directors, citing cultural factors within the business. Although she can still make independent films, the struggle remains for equal treatment.

The report authors from USC caution against optimism for a more diverse and inclusive Hollywood, stating: “One film or one director are simply not enough to create the sea change that is still needed behind the camera. Until studios, executives, and producers alter the way they make decisions about who is qualified and available to work as a director on top-grossing films, there is little reason to believe that optimism is warranted.”