Slated Study - Women In FilmYet again, women in Hollywood find themselves on the short end of the stick

A new infographic by Slated (an organization that filmmakers with talent, financing & distribution) first published in The Hollywood Reporter exposes a “a systemic lack of trust on the part of the film industry when it comes to collaborating with women in the workplace.” 

The infographic’s authors used statistical analysis to look at 1,591 feature films released (theatrically) between 2010 and 2015 and published findings via an infographic.

Bias was documented not only by the woefully low numbers of female directors, but even in categories like supporting actors where only 41% of the roles were filled by women.  While such inequality has been highlighted in previous studies like the Celluloid Ceiling Report published by researchers at San Diego State, Slated’s data analysis looks took another approach by asking, “how data science can best be harnessed to offset what is evidently a pattern of institutionalized bias at play in the marketplace.”

Slated’s CEO Stephan Paternot told the Hollywood Reporter’s Rebecca Sun that the issue goes beyond gender disparity in employment, pointing to an overall “trust gap” that handicaps female filmmakers:

Women are being given fewer films, and not only is that true, but they’re having to make their movies with less money, so they’re doing it with one arm tied behind their back. That effectively puts less production value up on the screen, meaning movies with a little narrower scope…  And once the product is all made, assuming it’s as good despite having less money, it’s then handicapped by being shown on two-thirds fewer screens. Those movies just don’t get seen. So then there’s this ongoing perception that women just aren’t really into the movie industry, and if they do make stuff, it’s not quite as good. – Hollywood Reporter

This “trust deficiency” exists despite the fact that while women-helmed features often have lower budgets, they “generate higher returns,” providing a higher return on investment (ROI).  This disparity is most evident among screenwriters where women achieve the highest ROI, yet account for less than 10% of theatrically released screenplays.

After reviewing the data, Slated researchers asked:, “When one looks at the ROIs, it’s clear that women are outperforming men all over the place — so what can we do as an industry to make sure that the production volumes are more comparable?”

Overall Slated’s analysis revealed:

  • Women Directors are the most under-represented major category in cinema, accounting for 8.8% of films made in this survey period. They are followed by Women Writers (13.2%), Women Producers (19.8%) and Women Acting Leads (29.4%) Even roles for Supporting Actors, which one might think would be close to fifty-fifty, are tilted towards men.

  • Regardless of role, women are afforded smaller budgets than their male counterparts. And yet, with the exception of Women Directors, those same women generate higher returns despite deploying those smaller production resources.

  • Women Writers seem particularly shortchanged: Their scripts achieve the highest ROI of any category and yet their work commands two-thirds of the average budgets given to Male Writers. This imbalance becomes particularly egregious for films budgeted at more than $25 million, a category in which Women Writers achieve an industry-high ROI of 3.72 and yet account for just 8.7% of theatrically released screenplays.

  • Even though male writers generate considerably more theatrical material than women writers, the market potential for their screenplays is essentially the same. The tiny difference in their Slated SCRIPT SCORES, an industry-weighted measure of a script’s quality that is derived from the year-adjusted performance analysis of 191 screenplays, does not come close to the imbalance in their script production volumes. For Male Writers that score is 78.0; for Female Writers it is 76.6.

  • In every cinematic genre, far fewer films are directed by women than by men. But if you adjust for that discrepancy, you will see that the volume of films made in each genre by men and women flexes up and down in surprising synchrony. So, too, does the ROI on those genres for both sexes.

Here’s the rest of Slated’s infographic: