New Study: Despite Activism, Hollywood Gender and Racial Discrimination Unchanged for 50 Years


From 2007 to 2014, less than one-third of the speaking parts in the most popular films were given to women, and aside from a few isolated pictures, film roles are still dominated by straight, young, white males, according to a new study.

The study, titled “Inequality in 700 Popular Films,” was released Wednesday by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and evaluated the 700 top-grossing films between 2007 and 2014.

The results: Hollywood still over sexualizes and typecasts women, scorns both minorities and women over 40 and doesn’t give the LGBT community a fair shake.

The USC study found that of the 4,610 speaking characters in the 100 top films of 2014, only 19 were Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual, and none were transgender. The study also adds an additional 10 characters were “coded” as Gay, while 4 were Lesbian, and 5 were Bisexual.

Also in 2014, “no female actors over 45 years of age performed a lead or co lead role,” and just over 19 percent of middle-aged characters were female.

73 percent of the speaking parts in 2014 were given to white actors, 12.5 percent to black actors, 5.3 percent went to Asian actors and Hispanic/Latino actors only accounted for 4.9 percent of speaking roles.

Middle Eastern and Native American actors were represented at about 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Over the seven-year period, of the 30,835 speaking characters in the top 700, only 30.2 percent were female, and in 2014, only 21 women were given leading roles.

Looking behind the camera, in 2014, only two major films were directed by women, which the study points out, is down from three female-helmed films In 2007. Of the 700 films studied, black directors helmed only three.

Women and girls are also more likely to be “hyper sexualized,” according to the study, which also notes “despite the activism and attention devoted to raising awareness on this topic in the popular press, the prevalence of girls and women on screen has not changed in over 50 years.”

The Harnisch Foundation, a group that pushes for racial and gender diversity in film and TV, funded the study.

To read the USC Annenberg School study in full, click here.


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