Despite efforts to promote gender equality, women are still severely underrepresented in the film industry, according to a new study from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
In a study by USC Annenberg titled “Gender Bias Without Borders,” researchers analyzed the quantity and quality of female roles in 120 of the world’s most popular movies from 2010-2013 (specifically, the top-grossing non R-rated releases in the 10 countries with the biggest film industries). They found that gender inequality is “rampant” in films worldwide and that “not one country is anywhere near representing reality.”
Moviegoers in the combined U.S./U.K. market saw over three times as many men as women onscreen— with women making up just 23.6 percent of the 5,799 speaking roles. And good luck finding a female hero in any country: Fewer than one in four of the films featured a female lead or co-lead.
When ladies are on the big screen, it’s often about the way they look. The study found that female roles — especially characters between the ages of 13 and 20 — are highly sexualized and objectified, with women over twice as likely as men to be shown partially or fully nude, or wearing sexually revealing clothing. Additionally, men in movies frequently talk about the appearance of their female counterparts, with over five times as many comments about physical appearance directed at female characters than male.
But what we see on the screen begins behind the camera—where there are four men for every women, researchers found. Movies directed or written/co-written by a woman, however, had 6.8 percent and 7.8 percent more female characters, respectively.
Of course, the real world hasn’t achieved gender equality, either— but it is much more representative than the ones we create in L.A. backlots. When did movie magic become the act of making women disappear?