Gender Gap in the Film Industry

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Gender Gap in the Film Industry
Pitch Perfect 2, which was directed by Elizabeth Banks, is one of the top ten grossing films for 2015, as of June 2. (Universal Pictures/TNS)

By ELISE RIO
Staff Writer

There is a reason why it is difficult for us to name powerful female protagonists in bestselling movies. It is also difficult for us to recall female characters that discuss issues other than love and boys and characters who are not hyper-sexualized or damsels in distress. While women make up half of film students, they represented only seven percent of directors on the 250 top-grossing movies last year and have comprised of fewer than five percent of directors of top films during the past two decades, according to the Huffington Post.

According to Melissa Silverstein, founder of Women and Hollywood, a director’s gender very heavily influences what viewers see on the screen. When women are directing a movie, they are more likely to present a powerful female protagonist with a well-rounded personality than women in movies directed by men. Silverstein said that “when we don’t see women reflected behind the scenes and on the screen, it basically tells us that we don’t count, I want to live in a world where a little girl can dream of being a hero just as much as a little boy can because she sees multiple examples of heroic women. . . . We need examples of heroic women making changes in our lives so boys and girls can see that it’s not just a boy thing.” Both little girls and little boys grow up with the same movies and react to what they see on the screen; the excessive amount of movies with women as secondary characters with flat personalities show young girls that they are less significant than their male counterparts.

Hollywood praises itself for being a place of innovation, a community of progressive people who are looking to improve films continually, yet they are not progressive enough when it comes to placing women in high positions, such as movie directors. Hollywood fails to see that a director with a different gender would bring different ideals to the drawing board and highly contribute to the innovation of films in the highly competitive movie industry.

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