Statistics Say Things Really Are Sad When It Comes To Women In Movies

Just 10 percent of movies have a "balanced cast" of men and women.

meryl
(Image credit: Archive)

The woman who defies all statistics when it comes to women on screen.

On the small screen, audiences are treated to powerful women (opens in new tab) leading the casts of some of the world's most-watched and critically-acclaimed programs. On shows like ScandalParks and Recreation, and The Good Wife, female protagonists are at the helm of massive political campaigns, winning elections, and killing it in the courtroom. On the big screen, however, female roles (opens in new tab) still have a ways to go.

This poor representation in movies is a long lamented complaint, and now there's numbers to back it up. The USC Annenberg School of Communications and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (opens in new tab) released new statistics that supported these complaints. Of nearly 6,000 film characters, just 31 percent of them were female. But this number can't be too surprising, as just 10 percent of those studied had a cast with 45 to 54.9 percent of speaking roles played by women. And when they do make appearances in movies, they're oftentimes not portrayed in an empowering manner. Female characters are over two times more likely to be shown in revealing clothing, showing more skin, or even partially naked. Another startling finding: There's pretty much no difference between the sexualization of women on film ranging from ages 13 to 39. So that means that a male character could leer at a high schooler the same way he would at a fully-grown woman. Yuck. To boot, women make up just 23 percent of the "workforce" in U.S. films, while in the off-camera world, they make up 46.1 percent. That means that the portrayal of working women in the movies is not just offensive, but inaccurate too.

Numbers like these really bring to light how important ground-breaking female parts are in the movie industry today. As Cate Blanchett said during her Oscar acceptance speech earlier this year, "Films with women at the center are not niche experiences. Audiences want to see them. And in fact, they earn money." Preach!

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Photo via Getty Images

I'm an Associate Editor at the Business of Fashion, where I edit and write stories about the fashion and beauty industries. Previously, I was the brand editor at Adweek, where I was the lead editor for Adweek's brand and retail coverage. Before my switch to business journalism, I was a writer/reporter at PEOPLE.com, where I wrote news posts, galleries and articles for PEOPLE magazine's website. My work has been published on TheAtlantic.com, ELLE.com, MarieClaire.com, PEOPLE.com, GoodHousekeeping.com and in Every Day with Rachael Ray. It has been syndicated by Cosmopolitan.com, TIME.com, TravelandLeisure.com and GoodHousekeeping.com, among other publications. Previously, I've worked at VOGUE.com, ELLE.com, and MarieClaire.com.