The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film reported only one percent of the top grossing films hired 10 or more women in 2017. 70 percent of those films hired 10 or more men.
In addition, women held 18 percent of behind-the-scenes and post-production jobs in the top films of 2017. In 1998, it was 17 percent.
“The gender equity gap, which exists in terms of pay, recognition, status and the number of management positions that women hold is a long established pattern,” said Susan Mody, PSCU associate professor and chair of gender and women’s studies. “From a historical perspective, it’s only relatively recent that women have been able to enter the workforce as broadly as now.”
Within the last 15 to 20 years, PSUC theater department chairperson, Kim Hartshorn, noticed while there was an increase in the number of women enrolling in school to get into the industry, there weren’t enough opportunities out there for them.
“If you look at any movies, most of the good characters are male,” Hartshorn said. “Males are written as the greater diversity of characters, from young to old, different body types, different ethnicities. Female characters are generally not as diverse in any of those categories. There’s still fewer roles for women in cinema.”
“When you look at particular groups of women and factors like race, class and intersect it with gender, you find that it’s even more challenging for women of color,” Mody said.
Aspiring to work in the entertainment industry, PSUC junior music major Wileen Wilmore believes that women of color are misrepresented in the industry.
“The media wants women to be seen as feminine and soft spoken, but stereotypes always vary by race,” Wilmore said. “The media sees Latinas as overly sexual and African Americans as hood.”
PSUC senior music major Zuwena James believes colorism has also attributed to the misrepresentation of women of color because women are being placed into certain labels based on their skin tone.
“Women in the entertainment industry are bringing to light the importance of not labeling what you think a person should or should not look like,” James said. “Artists are breaking those barriers.”
“I am so much more than the stereotypes,” Wilmore said. “I want people, especially the younger generation, to see me as an African American woman who happens to have Latina and Native American roots. I want them to know that black girls rock and women can do anything.”
Along with gender and racial bias, unequal pay and scarce job opportunities, women in the entertainment industry still face a few more challenges.
Following sexual abuse allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, hundreds of noteworthy actresses such as Natalie Portman, Viola Davis and Reese Witherspoon pledged their support to the Time’s Up movement, an initiative that aims to shed light on sexual harassment in Hollywood. The Time’s Up movement also coincided with the #MeToo movement, which encourages victims of sexual abuse to share their experiences.
“Women are changing the industry by knocking on the door and asking the hard questions on why [certain things are happening],” James said.
During this year’s Golden Globes, celebrities wore all black and used the hashtag #WhyWeWearBlack in solidarity with victims who have spoken out against Weinstein and other figures in Hollywood.
It didn’t stop there.
For the Grammys, famous guests wore white roses to represent the #MeToo movement.
The Grammys also marked the return of singer Kesha, who recently came back into the spotlight after battling a four-year legal dispute with her former producer, Dr. Luke (alias Lukasz Gottwald) who is accused of sexual abuse.
Janelle Monae introduced Kesha on stage and made a statement on sexual violence:
“We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and human beings. We come in peace but we mean business,” Monae said. “And to those who would dare try to silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s up.”
“Women are speaking out not just in isolation but connecting with each other and that amplifies these voices,” Mody said. “People have always spoken out, but when those voices are isolated, it’s easy for those voices to be silenced.”
While there have been advancements in the entertainment industry, women still have a long way to go. In the meantime, they are fighting relentlessly to have their voices heard.
“There is still room for improvements in diversity,” James said.
Email Jasely Molina at firstname.lastname@example.org