2019 was a record setting year for female directors according to a new study from USC Annenberg's Inclusion Initiative. The study found that there are about 8 male directors for every female director, and that out of the 100 top movies of 2019, 12 percent of those film's directors were women. 2019 had a significant increase in the number of female directors over 2018.
The data in the study shows the prevalence of female directors has, in fact, changed over time. As the Associated Press reports, there has now been some measure of change after years of inequality when it comes to females behind the camera. An inequality that has stubbornly persisted until now.
In USC Annenberg's annual study, female directors made up about 8 percent of the directors in the top 100 films of 2008, and in 2018 that number was only 4.5 percent. One of the study's authors, Stacy L. Smith, said, “This is the first time we have seen a shift in hiring practices for female film directors in 13 years." Smith mentioned something key that contributed to the different landscape in the industry saying, “One notable reason for this jump in 2019 was that Universal Pictures had five films with women directors at the helm in the top 100 movies. Yet there is still much more progress needed to reach parity for women behind the camera.”
The study looked at 1,300 top movies from 2007 to 2019 and found that there were only 13 women from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups who have directed movies from that list. White males have held 82.5 percent of jobs in those films, during that time frame. Out of those 1,300 films studied, Ava DuVernay and Jennifer Yuh Nelson were the only two female directors, considered underrepresented in the study, who directed more than one of the films in the list.
Some of the films directed by women during 2019 set box office records. As the Associated Press reports, one of 2019's most popular indie films was "The Farewell," directed by Lulu Wang, and "Hustlers," directed by Lorene Scafaria made about $105 million in the United States. "Frozen II" gained $1.2 billion worldwide setting a box office record for a film directed by a woman, and the film's co-director Jennifer Lee set the record for the first "Frozen."
This awards season has largely overlooked women though, with no women nominated for best directer at the Golden Globes, which is presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.