Female protagonists seemingly dominated the 2014 box office with films that rank among the biggest of last year, such as “Gone Girl,” “Maleficent” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I,” but that is far from the truth. A new study finds that women made up only 12% of onscreen protagonists in top grossing films, which is 3% less than in 2013.
It seems as though for every 20 Chris Pratts, there is only 1 Shailene Woodley (star of the “Divergent” series) or Jennifer Lawrence; gender stereotypes still run rampant in Hollywood. According to the study, documented by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women casted in films are typically younger than their male counterparts; the majority of women are in their 20s and 30s, while men over the age of 40 comprise 53% of major roles.
Females are often identified only as wives, mothers and love interests, in contrast with men who are identified by their power or careers and often shown in the workplace. In fact, a whopping amount– 61% — of male characters were identified solely by their professional roles, whereas only 34% of females have that kind of classification.
Women are a big part of the movie-going population, buying half of the tickets sold each year, which makes Hollywood seem out of touch with their demographic. What women of all ages are seeing onscreen are women who have less of a voice–making up only 30% of speaking roles– than their male counterparts.
Could the problem be what goes on behind the camera as well? According to the study’s author, Dr. Martha Lauzen, “People tend to create what they know and having lived their lives as females, women tend to be drawn to female characters… We need to have greater diversity behind the scenes if this is going to change.”
There’s hope yet; Michelle MacLaren will develop and direct ‘Wonder Woman’ for Warner Bros. It will be the first female-driven superhero movie, slated to release in 2017. She has also directed episodes of TV shows, “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” and has worked on other popular TV shows such as “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones”. Additionally, there are rumors that Angelina Jolie is wanted to direct Marvel’s first heroine-centric movie, “Miss Marvel”.
Strong, powerful women directing movies about strong, powerful women? Sounds like one small step for Hollywood.