Gender equality has been at the forefront of pop culture for the past few years, with everyone putting in their two cents on whether pink is for girls and blue is for boys and Jennifer Lawrence highlighting the gender pay gap in Hollywood, the list goes on. But there has been a relative lull in conversation when it comes to female directors. That is until a recent study commissioned by Directors UK which highlights the frankly shocking disparity between female directors and their male counterparts.
Is it any wonder that the conversation has been so silent, when it’s come to light that women make up only 13.6% of working film directors? Perhaps there are simply just not that many women turning to this particular career path? That could be a reasonable explanation, where it not for the fact that over half of all film students are women, and 49.4% of new entrants into the film industry are women as well. So where does this gap come from, and what does it mean for the future of film?
The report commissioned by Directors UK concludes that there are multiple barriers that are preventing women from succeeding in this area. Firstly, is the lack of any regulatory system in place imposing quotas or restraints on the hiring practices when it comes to the film industry (which also links to the diversity debate). Furthermore, the industry is infamously unreliable and unstable, with industry leaders averse to taking any ‘risks’, feeding into the stereotype that a successful director is one shaped in the form of a man.
When speaking about this issue, female directors have spoken up about the lack of existing framework in place to guide their career paths as a direct result of these disparaging figures. Beryl Richards, Chair of Directors UK and the Directors UK Gender Equality Group explains of fellow female directors “Their experience can be considered a useful steer for those starting on their way, as there are so few of us to help each other out. I thought by now there would be more women coming through, but at Directors UK the feeling is that we are becoming a species nearing extinction.”
The benefit of public funding has yet to have an impact on this issue, with only 21.7% of the films with UK based public funding having a female director in the past decade. The progress appears to have grinded to a halt.
Thankfully, as a result of the study, Cut Out of the Picture, has been launched to encourage the public, the government, and industry leaders to pledge to take action to end the inequality plaguing the film industry, and to help, rather than hinder, a future generation of directors. Historically, the work of female directors has been by and large greater than that of those directed by men, with higher critical acclaim, so we can only hope that with the support of the right influencers, this stark realization will encourage a shift in which we will see a surge of talent from the currently far outnumbered side of the gender divide.
Find out here how you can spread the work about the Cut Out of the Picture campaign led by Directors UK.May 5, 2016