UPDATED, 3:48 PM: The DGA, whose membership includes 1,271 women directors vs. 9,210 male directors, agreed with the gist of the ACLU’s report but is clearly irritated about being lumped in as part of the problem. The total female membership of the DGA is 3,617 (i.e. includes first ADs and UPMs, etc.) of a 16,000-member guild. The Guild issued the following statement in response to the report:
“The lack of network and studio action to hire more women and minority directors is deplorable. The DGA has been a long-standing advocate pressuring the industry to do the right thing, which is to change their hiring practices and hire more women and minority directors.
“The ACLU has made no effort to contact the DGA concerning the issues raised in its letters. The ACLU’s assertions reflect this lack of investigation as to the Guild, and ignore its efforts to combat discrimination against women directors and to promote the employment of women directors.
“There are few issues to which the DGA is more committed than improving employment opportunities for women and minority directors, it is time for change.”
PREVIOUSLY, 10:11 AM: The American Civil Liberties Union and its Southern California chapter today filed grievances with several federal and state agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, requesting investigations into “the systemic failure to hire women directors at all levels of the film and television industry.”
“Blatant and extreme gender inequality in this large and important industry is shameful and unacceptable,” Melissa Goodman, director of the ACLU SoCal’s LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project, said in announcing the campaign to engage the various civil rights agencies in addressing the issues. “The time has come for new solutions to this serious civil rights problem.”
Hollywood employers “don’t get a free pass to violate civil rights laws,” the announcement stated. “By some estimates, fewer women are working as film and television directors today than there were two decades ago. For example, in 2014, women were only 7 percent of directors on the top 250 grossing films. This number is 2 percentage points lower than it was in 1998.”
In addition to the EEOC, letters were sent to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Read the letters here.
“The failure to hire women directors in film and television cannot be attributed to a lack of qualified or interested women. Women are well represented in prominent film schools such as USC, NYU, and UCLA; while hard numbers are hard to come by, estimates place the number of women students focusing on directing as roughly equal to the number of men.”
Deadline is awaiting a response from the Directors Guild Of America, so stay tuned.