The gender gap in European and American film industries

The gender gap in European and American film industries

Men continue to dominate the film industry both in Europe and the US. Women are still poorly represented among professionals working in key roles behind the camera in the European film industry. Between 2017 and 2021 women only accounted for 25% of all directors of European feature films. In the US, women comprised 39% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers 2021-2022. 

The European gender gap was even more visible among composers and cinematographers, where women only represented 10% of the workforce. In turn, the female share was higher among producers (34%) and screenwriters (28%). The gender ratio appears to be more balanced “on screen”, with actresses accounting for 39% of all acting professionals starring in at least one lead role in a feature film, a report from European Audiovisual Observatory shows.

US report Indie Women study shows women comprised 39% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on independently and domestically produced feature-length films screening at 20 high-profile film festivals in the US from July 2021 through June 2022. This represents an increase of 1 percentage point from 2020-21.

The European proportion of women among active professionals is growing slowly in all categories but did not substantially change since 2017. There are significant differences across European countries, the report says.

Key European insights 2017 – 2021:

  • Women are still underrepresented and often working in male-driven teams
  • Concerning behind-the-camera roles, the highest female presence was registered among producers (34%) and screenwriters (28%).
  • The gender gap was most pronounced among cinematographers and composers (10%).
  • The share of female professionals is progressing slowly, with variations across Europe.
  • Documentary was the film genre with the highest share of women, taking into account all film crew roles. For instance, women accounted for 30% of directors of documentaries compared to 21% for live-action fiction films.
  • On average, female professionals in film crews worked on slightly fewer films than their male counterparts.
  • Behind the camera, female professionals tended to work in teams more often than their male colleagues and were comparatively more likely to work in gender-mixed teams than men.
  • A minority of feature films were made by female-driven teams of professionals. E.g. Only 19% of films were written by a female-driven team of screenwriters (i.e. by a majority of female professionals in the role of screenwriter).

 “The presence of female professionals in film crews was higher in documentary films than in other film genres. For instance, women accounted for 30% of directors of documentaries compared to 21% for live-action fiction films and 19% for animated features. Similarly, female professionals represented 31% of sceenwriters of documentaries, compared with 26% for live-action fiction and 23% for animation”, the European report says.

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US report Indie Women study shows women comprised 39% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on independently and domestically produced feature-length films screening at 20 high-profile film festivals in the US from July 2021 through June 2022. This represents an increase of 1 percentage point from 2020-21.

Similarly, the percentages of women working on the US top (domestic) grossing films in 2021 remained unchanged, according to the Celluloid Ceiling study released earlier this year. Women accounted for 21% of those working in key behind-the-scenes roles on the top 100 films, the same as in 2020, US-based Women’s Media Center reports.

“In 2021-22, women comprised 34% of individuals working on independently produced narrative features, significantly more than the 21% percent working on large-budget features. Women accounted for 43% of those working in behind-the-scenes roles on documentaries, slightly more than twice the percentage working on top grossing films.”

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“Focusing solely on directors, women made up 44% of helmers on independently produced documentaries and 35% on narrative features, but only 12% on top grossing films. These comparisons reveal the considerable gap between the number of women who desire to make films and the number of women Hollywood sees fit to hire on large-budget films”, Women’s Media Center concludes.

“In other US roles, on independent features (narrative and documentaries) women fared best as producers (44%), followed by executive producers (42%), writers (35%), editors (33%), and cinematographers (21%). On the 100 top grossing films, women fared best as producers (24%), followed by executive producers (24%), editors (21%), writers (16%), and cinematographers (6%). There were almost twice as many female producers and executive producers working on indie features as on top grossing films, and more than three times as many cinematographers.”

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Moonshot News is an independent European news website for all IT, Media and Advertising professionals, powered by women and with a focus on driving the narrative for diversity, inclusion and gender equality in the industry.

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