General Notes on Women in the Film Industry

Facts and Figures

$7bn per year at the box office.

$7.6 bn on video

$7.4 bn on rentals



4% women directors


Declined from 1998

15% executive producers


8% editors



Women 25+ are the most lucrative demographic for sales and box office.


Genre Case Study of the representation of women

Women in Westerns

Women generally fulfil a domestic role.

The western is the answer to the domestic novel

Men were driven to the frontier by the tide of feminist evangelists advocating temperance.

In the western the man’s mastery and identity are repeatedly reinvented.

Women are the ‘motive for male activity’

Typically they are ‘good-natured Dance hall girls or virginal guiding lights.’

Of course there have been plenty of exceptions particularly in the early years of film but they were intended for female consumption.


Women in front of the camera

In front of the camera her role is usually as sex object, femme fatale and / or victim.

She exists in a world of binary opposites: good / bad; virgin / whore; tart / girl next door.

Her fulfilment comes not through beauty not brains!

1970s feminism made women feel guilty for liking makeup and high heels, for enjoying romantic fiction and fashion!

Roles such as Ripley in Aliens were almost too much of a role reversal whereas the angels in Charlie’s Angels while kicking ass did it in high heels!


Jobs within the industry

Producer – all definitions of this job are particularly applicable to women’s skills of organisation and personal communication skills. So therefore is less creative and therefore more supportive of male directors!        See Bfi worksheet 7 here.


Research Case Study of Thelma Schoonmaker

Although an editor for 40+ years she is usually referred to in connection with the men with whom she has worked.



Why are there so few women in the industry?



Women comprise:

93% of all hair and makeup artists



83% of wardrobe and costume jobs


10% of camera operators


8% lighting


11% sound


9% broadcast engineers and cinema projectionists



Drew Barrymore


Have all been producer / director

or co-producer / director

or have set up their own production companies

Sharon Stone


Sigourney Weaver


Jodie Foster


Sarah Jessica Parker


Christina Ricci


Sandra Bullock



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