New Study Says Female Protagonists Are on the Rise, But Diversity Is Falling Short

When your "yay!" morphs into a "blerg."

(Image credit: GETTY)

The gender wage gap continues to be an issue in Hollywood, but the good news is that women are getting more leading roles than ever (hi, Rey!). The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film revealed that while female protagonists are still less prevalent, they comprised 22% of leads in 2015's top grossing films—hardly equal to men, but that's a 10% increase from last year's statistics. (The number of female "major characters" and speaking parts also experienced a bump, so yay!)

The unfortunate news is that a) gender stereotypes are still a huge problem, and b) the rise in female protagonists was predominantly white. 

Despite women landing more roles in general, the percentage of black women only rose 2 points to 13%. Meanwhile, there was no change in the percentage of Latinas, and the percentage of Asian women actually fell from 4% to 3%. 

This is pretty disappointing, but the uplifting news is that female directors made a huge impact in representation stats. Women were protagonists in 50% of films with female directors and writers, versus 13% of films with male directors and writers. 

Here's to hoping Hollywood execs take a look at these numbers and hire more female creatives so we can see an even more significant rise in women (and more specifically women of color) in the coming years. The future =🙋🙋🙋

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Mehera Bonner
Entertainment Editor

Mehera Bonner is a celebrity and entertainment news writer who enjoys Bravo and Antiques Roadshow with equal enthusiasm. She was previously entertainment editor at Marie Claire and has covered pop culture for over a decade.