Thumbs Down Report 2022: Number of Female Film Critics Drops During Pandemic

Dr. Martha Lauzen, in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, has released her latest version of the “Thumbs Down” Report. 


The report, which is updated and released every 1-3 years, “considers women’s representation and impact as film reviewers,” taking into account those working in different roles and for various outlets, including print, online, and radio/television. This most recent analysis looks to assess how the incredible impact of the pandemic on the film industry as a whole may have also affected the gender dynamics inherent in its reviewing sector. 


Several disheartening conclusions were easily extrapolated from the comprised data: most notably that, while the percentage of female film critics had been steadily, incrementally increasing over the last several years, the gap of 2020-2022 has seen that number drop by 4%, closer aligning to where representation was between the years of 2016 & 2018. 

The report further analyzes how this kind of disparity may affect a film’s critical reception, particularly in relation to the gender of the film’s protagonist and/or director. While men and women reviewers both tended to, on average, award higher scores to films with protagonists of the same gender, the proportion to which men more preferably rated films with male leads was twice as much as that of women rating films with female leads. Likewise, how men and women spoke about female directors showed a considerable differential, with male reviewers 20% less likely to write about them favorably. 


Ultimately, these imbalances inhibit the potential for unbiased artistic review. Or, according to Lauzen, “Women’s underrepresentation as reviewers limits their ability to create a more level, more equitable, reviewing marketplace.” 


For further details & findings, see the full report: