Why ARE Women So Under-Represented In Hollywood?

12 March 2014 by

Jennifer Lawrence at the Oscars [Getty]

Another day, another glaring example of women being marginalised... A shocking new report – It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) world – has revealed women had just 30% of the speaking roles in Hollywood last year. In the top 100 grossing movies, women made up just 15% of protagonists – a ratio that, shockingly, hasn’t really changed since the 1940s. No, we couldn’t believe it either.

This comes as a furious debate erupted this week after no women were nominated in the MTV Best Hero award, a category decided by MTV executives. In response, more than 16,000 people have signed a petition to get Katniss Evans – played by Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games – nominated.

So what's going on... and why are women, who make up 50% of the population, so massively under represented on the big screen?

‘It’s gender inertia’, says Dr Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, who are behind the report. ‘We’re seeing very little change in the number of female characters on screen… Moreover, female characters are less likely than males to have identifiable goals or to be portrayed as leaders of any kind.’

And there is also a huge pay gap between male and female actors according to the latest Women In Media report. Angelina Jolie is the top earning actress, getting $33 million for her starring role in Maleficent. In comparison, Robert Downey Junior is the highest paid movie star, earning $75 million for Iron Man.

This ‘missing women’ problem has been highlighted by prominent actresses recently. Accepting her Oscar earlier this month, Cate Blanchett said, ‘Those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films - with women at the centre - are niche experiences, they are not. Audiences want to see them and in fact, they earn money. The world is round people.’

We couldn’t agree more.


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