The Guardian sticks together with EWA NETWORK about gender bias in the film industry

75% of blockbuster crews are male. Cinema figures express alarm as statistics reveal lack of women at all levels of cinema production.

The Guardian has revealed that gender disparity is entrenched in the film industry, where more than three-quarters of the crew involved in making 2,000 of the biggest grossing films over the past 20 years have been men, while only 22% were women.

The report, compiled by the British producer and writer Stephen Follows, noted the gender of many employees, from make-up artists and animators to sound engineers and directors, who had worked on the 100 biggest box-office blockbusters each year since 1994.

The statistics, Follows decided, meant that he would "challenge anyone to read them and not feel that our industry has a problem with gender equality".

In particular, the report found a notable gender split in film-making departments. Women made up a majority only in costume and wardrobe departments and casting, all of which, traditionally, have been perceived as feminine workplaces. Visual effects, usually the largest department for big feature films, had an average of only 17.5% of women, while music had just 16%, and camera and electricals were, on average, 95% male.Even in creative areas men were found to dominate. The 2,000 films surveyed revealed that women accounted for only 13% of the editors, 10% of the writers and just 5% of the directors.

Follows said he hoped the report would finally force the industry to accept gender as an issue and bring the problem to the fore. "It’s terrifying. Every time I did a small bit of research I couldn’t believe how unrepresentative the industry was, and honestly, when I first saw quite how big the divide was, how overwhelming it was, I went back and did my research again just to double check. I was completely shocked, but in particular I presumed things would be getting better. But that clearly isn’t the case. It’s not that I think the industry is institutionally sexist but I really don’t think this has even been a conversation and so I would hope even being conscious of the gender split will begin to instigate change."

The report showed that rather than improving over time, the number of women working with blockbuster film crews in 2013 actually declined from previous years, to an average of just 21.8%. Fewer than 2% of the directors of the top 100 grossing films last year were female and only one had a woman to compose the score.

Beryl Richards, who has directed various popular TV series, including ITV’s Wild at Heart, blamed the freelance nature of the industry, which she said was "completely unregulated" . She added: "People underestimate how much discrimination can go on. There is no one monitoring and no one challenging the pattern that is replicating itself, that is why nothing is changing. "On so many sets women are seen as lesser beings in terms of status and many women still find it hard to be taken seriously. I just can’t bear it. There are still a lot of hostile working environments in film and television for women to walk into that need to be addressed, where they are treated differently from the men, but because of the nature of the industry none of these people get called out.

"So it is brilliant that this issue is bubbling up, as it has been left unchallenged for too long. It is so systemic we need to set these equality and diversity targets and the freelance area needs to be subject to the same conditions on equality as every other field, otherwise it will continue to move backwards."


The British Film Institute, which helps the industry, handing out £27m a year, said it was trying to tackle the diversity issues; new funding quotas were being introduced in September which would stipulate that films, to be eligible for BFI funding, should have a certain percentage of actors and crew who were female, gay, disabled and from ethnic minorities.

However, Francine H Raveney, executive director of the European Women’s Audiovisual Network, called for more to be done to tackle the gender divide and under-representation of women within the industry.

You can read the whole article in The Guardian

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