Think about the last few movies you saw in theaters: how many of them were directed by women? The answer to that question is probably not a big number. It might even be zero.
In the film industry, there’s only one female director for every 15 male directors. Overall, women made up only 4.4% of directors in the top 100 box office grossing films between 2002 and 2012. That’s a pretty big disparity. I’ve written before about how women tend to be underrepresented in film, no matter how much we might associate Hollywood with female faces. The disparity extends all the way to award shows, where men tend to take home a significant majority of the honors. That’s why I made a list of Oscar firsts and records for women after this year’s broadcast.
There is some good news – namely, that women tend to support other women in the film industry. When a narrative film has a female director, that leads to about a 21% increase in women working on the film, and a 24% increase for documentaries. It also leads to more women-focused stories and more movies that pass the Bechdel test: does the movie have at least two named female characters, who have a conversation with each other, about something other than a man? (Sounds simple, but if you run through a few movies in your head you’ll find that not many pass the test.)
According to a study by the Sundance Institute, the biggest obstacle female directors face when trying to make a movie is money. Film executives are less likely to trust a woman’s vision and help see it through. So, how do we fix this? Well, there’s a lot we non-Hollywood little people don’t have a say in, but what we can do is support movies made by female directors. Support a female director, and you’re not only supporting her, but all the women that she hired. Here’s a list of some 2013 movies by female directors. Some you can currently see in (air conditioned!) theaters, others are out on Netflix/iTunes/DVD, and some will be released in the next few months.