Every year, like reliably depressing clockwork, Professor Martha Lauzen of San Diego State University’s Center For The Study Of Women In Television And Film puts out her Celluloid Ceiling report, an annual study of female representation in America’s most successful films. And every year, the numbers turn out to be real bummers, showing that, whatever progressive moment seems to be gripping Hollywood at the time, it’s not doing much to stop women from being quietly shut out of key behind-the-scenes roles.
And, despite the public destruction of Harvey Weinstein, and the rising-up of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements—which, admittedly, all happened near the very end of the year—it doesn’t look like 2017 was much different. According to Lauzen’s latest report, only 14 percent of the 250 top-grossing films had even one female director on board, and only 17 percent had a female writer. (This, despite high-profile success stories like Patty Jenkins’ commercial hit Wonder Woman, or Greta Gerwig’s much-celebrated Lady Bird.)
Things were even more dire when expanded to the entire set, with only 1 percent of the 250 films studied employing 10 or more women in top behind-the-scenes roles, as opposed to 70 percent that hit that metric with men. (Cinematographers had it especially rough; the numbers stayed at their usual annual average of 4 percent.)
Of course, we can always keep our fingers crossed that this might finally be changing soon, as Hollywood becomes more conscious of the way it treats women—and female filmmakers become more empowered to demand an equal share for themselves. The Celluloid Ceiling report does have at least one slightly encouraging statistic in that regard: The study shows that, when women direct films, they’re far more likely to employ other women on the projects, suggesting that a few changes at the top can have serious impacts throughout the Hollywood ecosystem.