In a phenomenon that can only be described as “jeez, tell us something we don’t know,” a study by the Center for Study of Women in Television and Film reports that only 15 percent of film protagonists—and only 30 percent of speaking roles, period—are female characters. Statistics for nonwhite women are even more dismal: Researcher Martha Lazusen reports that film audiences in 2013 were just as likely to see an “otherworldly” female character as to see an Asian female character.
The report also breaks down in grim detail how women characters are more likely to be younger; more likely to be deprived of an occupation, goal, or leadership position; and less likely to be in any sort of leadership position. But perhaps the most upsetting revelation of the study is—much like the numbers of women working behind the scenes—the number of women represented on screen is actually worse than it was about 10 years ago. In 2002, 16 percent of characters in mainstream films were female.