Moviemaking in America: It’s a Man’s World

Friday, December 18, 2009
Sofia Coppola, the only American woman ever nominated for a Best Director Academy Award

For all the talk about how Hollywood is a progressive, liberal town, women continue to be underemployed in many key filmmaking jobs. After reviewing the top 250 U.S. movies of 2008, it was found that women comprised only 16% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors, according to Dr. Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for Study of Women in TV and Film at San Diego State University, and author of the annual study Celluloid Ceiling. This is actually a decline of 3% since 2001.

Less than 10% of the top 250 films last year were directed by women—the same rate as 1998. Only 4% of cinematographers were women, and only 5% of sound designers and supervising sound editors. Women represented only 1% of key grips (managers of production equipment) and gaffers (lighting technicians). Employment rates were better for women in positions such as production manager (25%) and production supervisor (44%).
Twenty-two percent of the films employed no females in the roles of directors, producers, writers, cinematographers or editors, whereas all the films had at least one man in one of these positions.
No woman has ever won the Academy Award for best director, and, in the 81-year history of the award, only three women have even been nominated: Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties (1976), Jane Campion for The Piano (1993) and Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation (2003). Of the three, only Coppola worked in Hollywood.
- David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff


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