Shocking: Fewer Lead Roles for Women in Hollywood



Heavily advertised movies from the last couple of years such as “The Hunger Games”, “Divergent”, or “Maleficent” create the feeling that women are everywhere, but a new study reveals the shocking truth – there are now fewer lead roles for women in Hollywood than a decade ago. In fact, only 12% of all protagonists in the top 100 U.S. box office hits in 2014 were female.

Looking at Hollywood blockbusters from last year, or let’s say, the last two or even three years, we can’t name many titles where female protagonists were more than the males. It seems the men are dominating the film industry more than we could imagine. You doubt that? Let’s see: that would be “Maleficent”, “Pitch Perfect”, and not much more. There might be several other movies like “Gone Girl”, “Divergent”, or “The Hunger Games”, but even Katniss Everdeen is accompanied not by one, but by two major male characters. One reason for the fewer lead roles for women is the tendency from recent years that most major box office hits are action, thriller and sci-fi movies, where men are the actual heroes and ladies usually play mothers, girlfriends and wives.

The numbers are clear – the 2014’s “It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World” STUDY BY San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film Shows says that female characters represented only 12% of protagonists the top 100 domestic-grossing films of 2014. 12%. This is 3% below the 2013’s rates and 4% below the numbers in 2002. Sounds shocking? It is, especially when we look at the other finding of the study, proving the increasing discrimination in Hollywood. 75% of the female characters were white and the percentage of black and Latina characters decreased from 2013 – only 11% were black, 4% were Latina, and another 4% were Asian. And these percentages are of the overall 12% of women in movies!

The study also shows that women made up 29% of all major characters and 30% of all speaking characters. In addition, women cast for top-grossing films last year were much younger than their male counterparts and most of them played supportive roles, or even worse – “domestic” characters such as wives and mothers. Men on the other hand, or male characters, were more involved in the action, in fights, and had greater significance for the plot development. Another study from the same team says that in women represented only 17% of directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors and cinematographers who worked on the top 250 box office hits of 2014.


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