Number Of Female Directors On Top-Grossing Films Decreased In 2021

c-title pmc-u-font-size-20 pmc-u-font-size-38@tablet pmc-u-font-size-46@desktop-xl u-text-align-center@mobile-max u-letter-spacing-0025 pmc-u-line-height-normal u-line-height-45@tablet pmc-u-padding-t-1 pmc-u-padding-t-050@mobile-max”>Number Of Female Directors On Top-Grossing Films Decreased In 2021

By Rosy Cordero

Rosy Cordero

Senior TV Reporter


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January 3, 2022 10:46am

(L-R) Chloe Zhao, Jane Campion, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Cate Shortland

The number of female directors on top-grossing films in 2021 has decreased, according to the latest Celluloid Ceiling study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

Women accounted for 17 percent of directors working on the top 250 films, down from 18 percent the year prior. In the top 100 films, the percentage of women directors also decreased from 16 percent in 2020 to 12 percent in 2021.

“Appearances can be deceiving.  While Chloé Zhao won the Oscar last year for directing Nomadland, and Jane Campion is a front-runner in this year’s race for The Power of the Dog, the percentage of women directing films actually declined in 2021,” said the study’s researcher, Dr. Martha Lauzen.

“Basing our perceptions of how women are faring on the well-deserved fortunes of just a few high-profile women can lead us to inaccurate conclusions about the state of women’s employment,” she added.

With theaters facing multiple challenges amid an ongoing pandemic, the study analyzed the traditional box office grosses and for films viewed at home (via its “Watched at Home” list).

The Watched At Home” list who women fared better in streaming, accounting for 10 percent of directors, 13 percent of writers, 21 percent of executive producers, and 19 percent of editors.

While numbers decreased for women directors at the box office, there is some positive news to report.

Last year, women comprised 25 percent of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 grossing films, a slight increase from 2020’s 23 percent. The study credits the uptick to the increase of women working as executive producers and producers.

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