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01 August 2018

Latest Study Finds ‘No Meaningful Change’ in Representation of Women On and Off Screen

Dr. Stacy L. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative have released their newest study, entitled Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films. The study is the largest and most comprehensive intersectional analysis of characters in motion picture content to date.

The study examines 48,757 speaking characters across 1,110 films from 2007 to 2017. The report reveals that progress toward inclusion remains to be seen among top movies with regard to females, underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, the LGBT community, and individuals with disabilities.

In terms of inclusion behind the camera, the study examined the gender of directors, producers, writers, and composers in 2017, and took an intersectional look at Black and Asian directors.

Out of the 1,223 directors hired on the 1,100 films studied:

– Just 4.3% were female
– Only 5.2% of the directors were Black or African American
– A mere 3.1% were Asian or Asian American
– 4 Black or African-American women and 3 Asian women worked as directors

In other behind the scenes roles, women were 10.1% of writers, 21.7% of producers, and less than 1% of composers. Strikingly, only 1.3% of composers were female between 2007 and 2017.

Some of the key findings related to on-screen representation include:

– Less than one-third of speaking characters on screen from all 11 years were girls/women, including just 31.8% of characters in the 100 top movies of 2017

– Characters from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups were 29.3% of all characters in the top-grossing films of 2017

– LGBT-identified characters represented less than 1% of all speaking characters

– Across 400 films from 2014 to 2017, only 1 transgender character appeared on screen

– Characters with disabilities filled only 2.5% of all speaking roles


The results reveal that there has been little to no meaningful change in the representation of these diverse groups in popular movie content since 2007.

Read more here.