working women

Sexism in Hollywood Matters to Women Everywhere

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Shonda Rhimes, as photographed by Art Streiber for the New York Times

Over the weekend, we were fascinated to see how gender equality looks — and feels — in an industry that isn’t well-represented (yet!) in our database: Hollywood.

Maureen Dowd, of the New York Times, wrote a long piece based on interviews with more than 100 men and women working in entertainment about why women are so under-represented in the film industry:

  • Only 30.2% of speaking or named characters in the top 100 grossing fictional films were women
  • 1.9% of the directors of the top 100 grossing films were directed by women in 2013 and 2014
  • Only three movies released by the 6 major studies had a female director last year
  • 95% of cinematographers, 89% of screenwriters, 82% of editors, 81% of executive producers and 77% of producers were men in 2014

As Dowd points out, these stats look even worse than the dismal numbers of women in the C-suite, Silicon Valley, or at the highest levels of U.S. government.

While it might be tempting to dismiss this issue as irrelevant to the vast majority of working class women, we think that’s the wrong way to look at the problem.

We believe that gender inequality is relevant for all women, wherever it lives. But the media is a special and important case simply because the industry has immense influence and touches us all — even for those of us who consume relatively little of it.

We can’t avoid the images, the story-lines, the cliches and the stereotypes regardless of how little entertainment content we consume. Our children — boys and girls — soak up up these ideas. And the older they get, the more they  believe in the story lines generated by a surprisingly homogenous group of people.

The problem is chicken-and-egg. How can we collectively make progress on our unconscious biases about gender roles and capabilities if they keep being reinforced? If Hollywood keeps producing stories where surgeons, CEOs, Presidents, executives, firemen, superheroes, and movie directors are men — and do all the leading, controlling, saving, and commanding — it becomes that much harder for the next generation of women to relate to those roles and life paths.

Of course we can make “choices” to consume different content. But that’s only realistic up to a point. That’s why we stand by the efforts by Dowd, the Geena Davis Institute and these brave, individual women who have spoken out (sometimes hilariously succinctly) — at some risk to their own careers and reputations — to spread awareness of sexism in Hollywood.

Thank you for telling your stories — it matters to women everywhere.

Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. 

 

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