Women Still Underrepresented in Film and TV, Study Says

Jane Fonda
Fabrizio Maltese

Jane Fonda, photo­graphed in a suite at the Martinez, came to Cannes for the fifth straight year as a L'Oreal ambassador. "I never cared about how I looked until I was over 35. But now I just love dressing up in designer clothes and putting on makeup and getting my hair done. I never thought I'd say that."

The Women’s Media Center, founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem, has released a report showing low female employment numbers among cast and crew alike.

A new report by the Women’s Media Center finds that women are still underrepresented on screen and behind the scenes in film and television, the Center announced Tuesday. The report, which is a summary of original research done at USC, San Diego State and elsewhere over the past year, declared that “the American media have exceedingly more distance to travel on the road to gender-blind parity.”

Among the findings in the annual report:

* Women represent 28.8 percent of speaking characters in the top-grossing films in 2012.

* Only six percent of the top 100 films in 2012 hired a balanced cast of women and men.

* For production of the 250 top-grossing domestically made films of 2013, women accounted for 16 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors, slightly lower than the 2012 and 1998 figures.

* Over a five-year period ending in 2012, the 500 top-grossing movies had 565 directors, 33 of whom were black. Two of the 33 were black women.

* Women had 43 percent of speaking parts in primetime TV, according to the latest study, up from 41 percent previously. Those women tended to be much younger than their male acting counterparts.

* More white women but fewer women of color have been directing primetime TV shows, but the overall numbers for women have remained virtually unchanged.

* According to a two-month snapshot in 2013, men wrote 82 percent of all film reviews.

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“The media is failing women across the board,” said Julie Burton, president of the Center. “The numbers tell a clear story for the need for change on every media platform.”

The Women’s Media Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem. It released the report in advance of a panel discussion on “Women, Media and Leadership” being held Wednesday in conjunction with Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Karen Finney, host of MSNBC’s “Disrupt with Karen Finney” is moderating the panel.

The report was prepared by journalist Katti Gray, Texas State University professor Cindy Royal, and the Center’s media relations manager, Cristal Williams Chancellor. In addition to film and television, the report also looks at the representation of women in newspapers, online-only news sites, radio, social media, video games and other areas.

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