The 16th annual “Celluloid Ceiling” report released today comes with this warning: “The employment of women working in key behind-the-scenes roles in film continues to stagnate.” The findings of San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film reflect a state of “gender inertia,” says the org’s executive director Dr. Martha Lauzen. The report shows that women accounted for just 16% of directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the 250 films with the highest domestic grosses in 2013. That figure is 2% lower than in 2012, and 1% lower than findings of the inaugural study in 1998. It also comes a year after Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and a handful of years after she won the Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker.
The center analyzed behind-the-scenes employment of 2,938 individuals and found that women accounted for just 6% of all directors working on the top-grossing films of last year, a 3% drop from 2012. (With foreign films included, the 2013 director figure is 8%.) The number of female producers remained the same from 2012 to 2013 but did increase 1 percentage point to 25% from 1998. The percentage of cinematographers also increased from 2% in 2012 to 3% in 2013.
Among the other key findings: Women accounted for 10% of writers working across the top 250 movies in 2013, a 5% drop on 2012; there was a 3% drop from 2012 on the number of female editors working on top films which in 2013 was 17%; women comprised 15% of all executive producers working on the top 250 films of 2013, a 2% drop on 2012 and a 3% drop from 1998. In all, women were most likely to work in the drama, comedy, and documentary genres — and least likely to work in animation, sci-fi, and horror.
This year’s “Celluloid Ceiling” report also crunched numbers for female composers, production designers, sound designers, f/x supervisors, supervising sound editors, and VFX supervisors across the top 250 films. (Since this is the first time some of these roles were included, historical comparison data is only available in certain cases.) The report analyzed the employment of 1,026 individuals. Women comprised 2% of all composers; 23% of all production designers, a 3% jump on 2008, the last year the data was collected; women made up 4% of all sound designers for a 1% drop from 2008; the gender accounted for 9% of all supervising sound editors, a 4% hike on 2008. Meanwhile, 2% of special effects supervisors were women as were 5% of all VFX supervisors.