‘Inequality entrenched in film world’ as women get just a third of speaking roles

Inequality is entrenched in Hollywood a new study suggests as it found women had less than a third of the speaking roles in the top 100 movies last year. The film world was described as “an epicentre of cultural inequality” by the researchers who also discovered lesbian, gay or transgender characters accounted for less than 1% of the 35,205 speaking parts. There is little change from previous years, the study showed, with the number of female speaking roles falling slightly from 2014. It comes despite widespread calls for more diversity in movies, with this year’s Oscar ceremony blighted by the claims that the winners’ list was too white and too male.

We’re seeing entrenched inequality. Whether we’re studying gender, race, ethnicity, LGBT or characters with disabilities, we’re really seeing exclusionary forces leaving out anybody that’s not a straight, white, able-bodied man.

Researcher Prof Stacy L Smith

The findings comes from an annual study of speaking roles by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. It showed that 31.4% of speaking characters in the top 100 films were female in 2015 — roughly the same number as in 2007 and a ratio of 2.2 men for every single woman. Researcher Prof Stacy L Smith called for more to be done to address the balance. “Despite all the chatter and all the activism and all the press attention, it’s another year where the status quo has been maintained. We’ve seen a lot of talk and little action.”

We see a perpetuation of the same groups getting access to the most visible roles, whether that’s in the director’s chair or on screen, and that continues to be the problem plaguing Hollywood’s hiring practices

Prof Smith