Celluloid Ceiling Study Shows Decrease in Women Film Directors in 2018

Ava DuVernay on the set of A Wrinkle in Time (Courtesy of LTLA Communications)


The latest “Celluloid Ceiling” report from Dr. Martha Lauzen, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, released on January 3rd, 2019, shows that despite increased media attention on gender disparity in Hollywood, no real progress has been made.

Despite recent high-profile breakthroughs (Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman), the study of the  top 250 films of 2018 at the domestic box office found that women comprised just 8% of the directors involved, down from 11% in 2017. The percentages of women directors also declined on the top 100 and 500 films. Overall, women comprised 20% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers. This represents an increase of two percentage points from 18% in 2017.

Only 1% of the films surveyed employed 10 or more women in the key behind-the-scenes roles – a number that is abysmally low. In contrast, 74% of films employed 10 or more men. Not surprisingly, the study shows that when films have at least one woman director, the percentages of women working as writers, editors, cinematographers, and composers increase dramatically.

“The study provides no evidence that the mainstream film industry has experienced the profound positive shift predicted by so many industry observers over the last year. This radical under-representation is unlikely to be remedied by the voluntary efforts of a few individuals or a single studio. Without a large-scale effort mounted by the major players — the studios, talent agencies, guilds and associations — we are unlikely to see meaningful change. The distance from 8 percent to some semblance of parity is simply too vast. What is needed is a will to change, ownership of the issue — meaning the effort originates with the major players, transparency and the setting of goals.” – Dr. Martha Lauzen

While there has been more talk, there still needs to be more action. Read the full study. For a look at racial intersectionality, check out the recently published “Inclusion in the Director’s Chair” study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

The Celluloid Ceiling has tracked women’s employment on top grossing films for the last 21 years. It is the longest-running and most comprehensive study of women’s behind-the-scenes employment in film available. This annual study is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, San Diego State University.