Women & Girls on Film: “Inequality is Rampant”
A 2014 study found that gender inequality was entrenched in 120 major films released in 11 key movie-going countries: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, United States, and the United Kingdom. The study included almost 5,800 speaking or named characters. The researchers find that, globally, only 31% of speaking roles in films are given to women and less than a quarter of films are centred on a woman protagonist (23%).
Only 28 films in the sample (23%) feature a woman or girl in the lead role or otherwise sharing the story with another main character. The study also considers the gender balance of film casts (where 45 to 55% of characters are women or girls). Only 12 films met this criteria (10%). When women characters are featured in the main storyline, they appear in highly femininised genres.
Women are more than twice as likely to wear sexually revealing clothing (25% of women vs 9% of men) and women are more likely to be thin and have their looks commented on. Less than one quarter of women characters are depicted working and 15% were in powerful roles such as lawyers, doctors, and scientists.
Lead researcher Dr Stacy L. Smith says: “We have more than a film problem when it comes to valuing girls and women. We have a human problem.”