This past May, MTV News reported that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had sent out letters to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, with evidence of what the ACLU refers to as "overt sex stereotyping and implicit bias" within Hollywood studios, networks, and talent agencies. And as of today, it appears that at least one of those agencies is listening.
Indiewire reports that the EEOC has begun sending letters to female directors, asking them to come in and meet with them in October to discuss the discrimination they've faced working in movies and television. (And the numbers, by the way, support the fact that they have experienced discrimination: A University of Southern California study found only 1.9 percent of the top-grossing 100 films from 2013 and 2014 were directed by women, and a Directors Guild of America study found that only 14 percent of 220 TV shows -- 3,500 episodes in total -- had women at the helm.)
"We have received the ACLU's letter which contained information documenting underrepresentation of women directors in the film and television industry and have had further discussions with the ACLU about their data and conclusions," the EEOC told MTV News in an email. "Federal law does not permit EEOC to confirm or deny the existence of a charge, and it would be inappropriate to comment on any potential or ongoing enforcement actions. EEOC will continue to vigorously enforce Title VII's nondiscrimination requirements. Title VII prohibits covered employers from discriminating on the basis of sex. Individuals who believe they have been discriminated against at work can file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. We also encourage the industry to publicly address the serious issues raised by the ACLU and to take proactive steps to address these issues."
Of course, Indiewire also confirms that the conversations the EEOC has with these directors will be strictly confidential, but what comes out of them could potentially mean big changes for diversity behind the camera. The EEOC's job is to investigate discrimination complaints then administer and enforce civil rights laws if necessary, so what they find regarding gender bias in Hollywood could actually lead to legislation that'll put more fabulous female filmmakers behind the camera.