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Most films still directed by white men, according to study

Contributed by
Jun 21, 2018

Despite the success of films like Wonder Woman and Get Out, the gender and racial diversity of directors remained depressingly low in 2017. That’s according to a new study from the Director’s Guild of America, which analyzed 651 films released last year.

Of those 651 films, only 16% had a female director.

The DGA was also able to analyze those films which grossed more than $250,000 at the box office. 12% of those directors were women, which despite its low quantity is still the highest number in five years. That news, however, is much worse for racial diversity, which was at a five-year low of only 10% of directors (down from 15% in 2013).

This latest study further confirms the results of similar studies in recent years. According to an annual study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, only 11% of directors who helmed the top grossing movies in 2017 were women, a 4% increase over the previous year.

Meanwhile, a 2015-2017 investigation of gender discrimination in Hollywood found that the fears of female filmmakers weren’t just in their heads. Studios have been systematically discriminating against female directors for years.

This latest study maintains that gender disparity exists across the board, whether in big-budget blockbusters or micro-budget indies. In a statement, DGA president Thomas Schlamme said, “There is a misconception that things are better in the smaller, indie film world, but that’s simply not the case. From financing and hiring to distribution and agent representation — every aspect of the entire system disadvantages women and people of color.”

We’re about halfway through 2018 so far, and already there have been a number of major announcements regarding female filmmakers. Victoria Mahoney was hired as a second unit director on Star Wars Episode IX. Meanwhile, Ava Duvernay has been tapped to direct DC Comics’ New Gods following her $100MIL box office for A Wrinkle in Time (where she became the first woman of color to helm a $100MIL movie). Whether these announcements actual spell a cultural shift is yet to be seen. We’ll just have to wait for the 2018 studies to find out.

In the meantime, evidence exists which proves that an increased amount of gender diversity behind the camera leads to an increased amount of diversity in front of the camera, so evening out these numbers across the board could solve other issues.