Women Filmmakers Made Big Employment Gains in 2019, but Don’t Call it Parity, Study Says

Women filmmakers in key roles behind the camera, or “below the line,” saw an increase in employment in 2019, a new study from San Diego State University says.

Twenty percent of directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers across the top 100 films of the year were women, said research out of SDSU’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. That’s up 4% from 2018.

In a survey for the year’s top 250 films, women accounted for 21% of the gender makeup, up slightly from the year before. In a final account of the top 500 films, the percentage of below-the-line women was flat at 23%. Though the gains are encouraging, parity is a long way off, study author Dr. Martha Lauzen cautioned.

“While the numbers moved in a positive direction this year, men continue to outnumber women 4 to 1 in key behind-the-scenes roles. It’s odd to talk about reaching historic highs when women remain so far from parity,” Lauzen said of the annual report, titled “Celluloid Ceiling.”

The director’s chair, an undisputed power position on a film set, continues to see a paltry amount of women occupying the seat. Twelve percent of directors on the top 100 films of the year were women, which is up 4% from 2018. Studies like the Celluloid Ceiling prove conclusively that when a woman directs a film, more women occupy top jobs in other roles and departments. This year, 59% of films with female directors hired a female writer. Thirteen percent of films directed by men had a female screenwriter.

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This year’s study monitored over 6,700 film credits. Since 1998, the study has tracked a total of more than 70,000 credits.

Read the full 2019 Celluloid Ceiling here.

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