Is There Any Good News In This Female Directors in Hollywood Infographic?

By  · Published on June 24th, 2014

Summit Entertainment

It’s no secret that Hollywood is populated by far more male directors than female – and stop right now if you want to argue about that, the numbers back it up, and if you want to turn this into something about how dudes are better at directing, just get out before things get bloody – but while that’s easy enough to say (look: “there are more male directors than female directors”), it’s sometimes more impactful to deliver that message in a handy graphic. Some of us are just visual people, after all, and isn’t that why we like movies so much?

Fortunately, the team over at IndieWire’s Women and Hollywood has put together a sleek and simple infographic that takes aim at a seemingly limited range of things – female directors working in the studio system over the past five years – and uses it to illuminate Hollywood’s prevalent problem with gender equality. Here’s just a little sample: over the past five years (the chart covers films released by major studios between 2009 and 2013), just one woman has directed two features. That’s a problem – but is there a little bit of hope buried in all of this apparently bad news? Take a look!

IndieWire’s Women and Hollywood

First of all, the numbers are pretty damning – just 22 out of 466 studio films from the last five years were directed by women. That’s 4.7 percent. That’s shocking (though, of course not surprising).

But what this handy infographic fails to share is if these numbers have gotten any better over those five years. Let’s take a look at female-directed films from the five previous years, from 2004 to 2008. Are things on the upswing, even in this small sample? Is there any good news underneath this graphic’s bad news? Is there any hope? Well, maybe.

A sample of female directors who directed from 2004 to 2008 (provided by the awesome women’s cinema Wikipedia page) makes mention of just fourteen films. Fourteen. And that doesn’t even narrow the field to just studio system feature films (there’s a documentary in there and even some European films not released by American studios). There’s definitely some extremely notable work in there, too – that Sofia Coppola double-header, Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone (the rare comic book movie made by a woman) and Oscar nominees like North Country and Frozen River. Still, fourteen (and a weighted fourteen, really) is less than 22, and although this is just a small snapshot without meticulous math like that infographic, it sure looks a bit better.

Also better? The variety of films directed by the directors in the 2009 and 2013 range – from romantic comedies to war films to sci-fi epics to just about everything in between, with more critical and awards accolades streaming in every year. Sure, the numbers suck, but let’s not forget that 2009 did see the first female Best Director Oscar winner, something worth both celebrating and pushing forward without pause.

If you’re looking for more visually stimulating ways to look at gender inequality in the film world, take a look at this infographic from last year that was also pretty depressing. Hungry for another look at what makes women in movies tick? You can brush up on this study about what female film-goers like in a film.