Breaking the cycle of Hollywood exclusion

October 28, 2015
Inside Counsel

As an entertainment litigator for the past thirty years, I’ve seen firsthand the systematic exclusion of women from leadership roles in Hollywood. That is not to say that no women break through the invisible barriers. But the statistics are depressing. Women now make up approximately 46 percent of the U.S. workforce. (United States Department of Labor, Labor Force by Sex, 2014 and Projected 2022)They attain educational degrees at similar rates to men. (United States Department of Labor, Distribution of the Civilian, Noninstitutional Population by Sex and Education Attainment, 2014 Annual Averages) However, despite these advances, women continue to make up only a fraction of the Hollywood workforce.

For example, of the top 100 films of 2014, women comprised only 1.9 percent of directors, 11.2 percent of writers, and 18.9 percent of producers. (Stacy L. Smith et al., Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race, & LGBT Status from 2007-2014, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communications & Journalism, at 2.) Women are also consistently paid less than men in Hollywood. (New York Film Academy Special Report, “Gender Inequality in Film” of 2013, Nelson Granados, “How Hollywood Women Will Benefit From California’s New Fair Pay Act,” Forbes Media & Entertainment, October 6, 2015) Unfortunately, this pattern of exclusion has persisted for decades with little change.