On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union will ask state and federal governments to investigate hiring practices in Hollywood, particularly when it comes to female directors, citing "overt sex stereotyping and implicit bias" in a series of letters being sent to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "Women directors aren't working on an even playing field and aren't getting a fair opportunity to succeed," Melissa Goodman, director of the LGBT, Gender, and Reproductive Justice Project at the ACLU of Southern California told The New York Times. "Gender discrimination is illegal. And really Hollywood doesn't get this free pass when it comes to civil rights and gender discrimination."
The ACLU has also encouraged the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to investigate Hollywood's hiring practices and identify the studios and networks with the worst records. If they do investigate and find evidence of bias or discrimination, the agencies may then be able to take legal action against the offenders. The ACLU's documentation cited studies of the film and television industry as well as anecdotes from 50 female directors who reported that executives told them that a show wasn't "woman friendly" or "we already hired a woman this season."
The subject of gender bias in Hollywood has come up often recently, with respect to positions both in front of and behind the camera. The Sony hack revealed that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams were both paid less than their male costars for American Hustle, and a USC study found that only 1.9 percent of the top-grossing films of 2013 and 2014 were directed by women. "Real change is needed to address this entrenched and long-running problem of discrimination against women directors," the ACLU said. "External investigations and oversight by government entities tasked with enforcing civil rights laws is necessary to effectuate this change."