The men get picked up by the studios and the women don’t

Good. Let’s have more of this kind of thing. The ACLU is starting a campaign to push the US movie industry to stop treating women like the invisible half of humanity.

The so-called celluloid ceiling is firmly intact despite years of complaints about gender inequality, the American Civil Liberties Union reports. In particular, both aspiring and seasoned female directors are excluded from the vast majority of movies.

The ACLU will demand on Tuesday that both state and federal agencies investigate the hiring practices of Hollywood’s major studios, networks and talent agencies and consider filing legal charges.

The ACLU found “rampant discrimination” against female movie directors and has focused its latest investigation mainly on that sector of the industry, but also raises concerns about long-term gender discrimination involving actors, writers and other roles in both film and television.

It’s a completely ridiculous and terrible situation, that everyone knows about, and nobody does anything about. And it matters, because this industry shapes our imaginations and our ideas of how the world is – so it’s teaching everyone that women are scarce and weird, and weak and stupid, and after age 30 useless and repulsive. Less than ideal teaching, wouldn’t you say?

“Hollywood is in a dire situation in terms of gender disparities and the industry has been pretty much getting away with it,” Ariela Migdal, a senior staff attorney in the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU, told the Guardian on Tuesday.

In 2014, only 7% of the directors of the 250 top-grossing Hollywood-produced films were women – which was down 2% on the equivalent figure for 1998, the ACLU noted on Tuesday.

And last year, 70 network television shows – almost a third – hired no female directors at all, the advocacy group said.

There’s plenty of racial discrimination too, they add.

ACLU researchers found that the number of women studying at leading film schools in the US was roughly on a par with men. And films directed by women do well at prestigious competitions such as the Sundance film festival, Migdal said.

“There is no shortage of talent,” she added. “But then the men get picked up by the studios and the women don’t. It’s blatant and it’s widespread across the industry. When you have statistics and a lot of complaints from individuals, it shows a pattern.”

The ACLU letters will go to the federal agencies the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) and the Labor Department, and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Numerous studies in recent months have shown entrenched bias against women on the screen, behind the camera and writing the shows and movies.

And you confirm this for yourself by seeing a movie and noticing how scarce the women are and how underwritten the few women are.


  1. Nathanael says

    To pile on: and why, precisely, is James Gunn being hired for Guardians of the Galaxy 2, while Nicole Perlman (the obvious mastermind behind the brilliant script) isn’t?

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