Women grossly underrepresented in director's chair, USC study finds

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The latest findings from USC Annenberg's Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative do not bode well for women who want to direct feature films.

"We're really seeing a complete exclusion or an epidemic of invisibility behind the camera," said Dr. Stacy Smith, co-author of the study.

The study analyzed the top 100 movies each year from 2007 to 2016 and found only 4 percent were directed by women. That's a ratio of 24 males to every one female director.

"When you take an intersectional look, you realize that across all those directing opportunities there were only seven women of color - three African American women, three Asian American women and one Latina," Smith said.

Those talented enough to be hired for that first job generally have a long wait for their second.

"There is a 'one and done' phenomenon. About 54 percent of non-black, non-Asian males, only 54 percent only work once. For women of color, 83 percent only work once and about 80 percent of women overall," Smith said.

The Annenberg study does offer suggestions to facilitate change, saying those in hiring positions need to be held accountable.

"Your pool has to be diversified, and if you diversify the pool, that is in fact the first step towards diversifying the ranks of your hiring decisions," she said.

Smith said people should be evaluated based on their talent, not the particular identity group they belong to.

"When people are evaluated based on their ideas, their storyboards, their pitches, that's when we'll see some of those numbers change," she said.

Smith said that A-list actors can also help push for change by asking for more inclusion in their contracts. That way, they can see a truer representation of our world on screen and behind the camera.
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