USC Study Finds That Movies Are Still Dominated By Men, On- And Off-Screen

By Sonaiya Kelley
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new USC study reveals (among other things) there were seven times as many male screenwriters listed as female and almost 12 times as many male directors.

Los Angeles Times

As the first female star of a superhero franchise, Wonder Woman may have empowered female viewers, female filmmakers and the summer box office, but she is still a lone Amazon in the world of men.

According to a new USC study, women remain strikingly underrepresented in film, both on- and off-screen. And when they show up, they are still portrayed in stereotypical ways.

At the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab at USC, Shrikanth Nara-yanan, the Niki and C.L. Max Nikias Chair in Engineering, and a team of researchers used automated software to analyze the sophistication of language and character interaction in nearly 1,000 scripts, poring over 53,000 dialogues between 7,000 characters.

What they found was a whole lot of men, 4,900 male characters to 2,000 female characters, doing a whole lot of talking, men participated in 37,000, the women got only 15,000 dialogues.

Not surprisingly, there were seven times as many male screenwriters listed as female and almost 12 times as many male directors.

Women fared better as producers, only three times as many men as women, and were the majority of the casting directors by almost 2-1.

That the majority of casting directors were female seemed to have no effect on the gender makeup of characters.

However, the researchers found, if female writers were present in the writers room, female representation in the story was, on average, 50 percent higher.

The study also found that in the majority of films, the female characters tended to be about five years younger than their male counterparts and not central to the plot.

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