Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow is the latest Hollywood power player to sound off against gender discrimination in the entertainment industry.
Bigelow, who helmed the films Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, released a statement to Time on Tuesday in support of the American Civil Liberties Union’s announcement that it will investigate Hollywood studios, networks, and talent agencies over what has been called “rampant and intentional gender discrimination in recruiting and hiring female directors,” according to The New York Times.
“I have always firmly believed that every director should be judged solely by their work, and not by their work based on their gender,” wrote Bigelow. “Hollywood is supposedly a community of forward thinking and progressive people yet this horrific situation for women directors persists..
Bigelow hit a milestone in 2010 when she became the first woman to win an Oscar for directing.
“Gender discrimination stigmatizes our entire industry. Change is essential. Gender neutral hiring is essential,” she continued.
The Wrap reports the ACLU obtained statistical and anecdotal evidence of “overt sex stereotyping and implicit bias,” which was released to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
“Real change is needed to address this entrenched and long-running problem of discrimination against women directors,” reads one of the letters. “External investigations and oversight by government entities tasked with enforcing civil rights laws is necessary to effectuate this change.”
A study commissioned in April by both the Sundance Institute and Women in Film revealed a wide gender gap between directors in mainstream pics.
“Across the 1,300 top-grossing films from 2002 to 2014, only 4.1 percent of all directors were female,” the report partially reads.
The study also analyzed the perception many in the film industry have about female directors, even citing a belief that women cannot handle certain aspects of production, including commanding a large crew.
“Women in Film is proud that the research we commissioned with the Sundance Institute (Exploring the Careers of Female Filmmakers Phase III, Stacy L. Smith, USC) has provided a statistical foundation to the ACLU in addressing systemic failure to hire women directors in the film and television industry,” Executive Director of WIF Kirsten Schaffer wrote in a statement to The Wrap.