Hollywood’s number of women directors rose in 2020: Study


Women directors comprise 16 percent of filmmakers calling the shots on the 100 highest-grossing Hollywood films in 2020, according to a study from the Center For The Study Of Women In Television And Film at San Diego State University. This is a four percent jump from 2019, and a dramatic 12 percent jump from only two years ago.

“Women accounted for 16 percent of directors working on the top 100 grossing films in 2020, up from 12 percent in 2019 and four percent in 2018,” the study said, adding: “Women comprised 18 percent of directors working on the top 250 films in 2020, up from 13 percent in 2019 and 8 percent in 2018.”

“The percentages of women directing top 100 and top 250 films represent recent historic highs and also reflect two consecutive years of growth,” the seven-page study noted.

If one takes into account female technicians in other creative fields of filmmaking besides directors, who worked in the top 100 grossing Hollywood films of 2020, the figures are even better, according to the study available at the Center’s official website.

“Women comprised 21 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 100 grossing films in 2020, up from 20 percent in 2019. Women working in these roles on the top 250 grossing films experienced a slight increase from 21 percent in 2019 to 23 percent in 2020,” said the study.

Among the highest grossers that opened in 2020 was Patty Jenkins’ Christmas release “Wonder Woman 1984”, starring Gal Gadot, which was also one of the most-talked about Hollywood releases of the year. That apart, Cate Shortland’s “Black Widow”, starring Scarlett Johansson, was ready for release in 2020 although the film is now scheduled to open in April this year owing to last year’s lockdown.

Last year also saw the release of Cathy Yan’s “Birds Of Prey”, starring Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez and Ewan McGregor. Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland”, starring Frances McDormand, is another heroine-centric release made by a woman director that was much-talked-about.

In 2020, when there was a total closure of cinema theatres globally for most of the year owing to Covid lockdown, the number of women technicians involved with ‘Watched At Home’ films makes for interesting statistics, too.

Women accounted for nine percent of directors working on the watched at home films, besides 12 percent of writers, 15 percent of executive producers, 31 percent of producers, 19 percent of editors, and three percent of cinematographers working on such films, said the study, which included films released digitally for the first time.

The annual report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film is supervised by Center director Dr. Martha Lauzen.

Although there has been an upward swing in women being employed as technicians in Hollywood, there is still a long way to go. The percentages in the Top 250 Films With No Women In Any Creative Role is still staggering. For instance, going by the study, 80 percent of films in the list had no women directors, 73 percent had no women writers, 41 percent had no women executive producers, 26 percent had no women producers, 72 percent had no women editors, 94 percent had no women cinematographers.

“The majority (67 percent) of films employed fewer than five women in the above roles,” the study concluded.