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Female Filmmakers Haven’t Made Much Progress Since 2001

We still have a long way to go before women in the film industry are hired at the same rate as men.

In 2015, the plight of women in Hollywood became a national conversation, and for good reason: it's a ridiculously male dominated industry that appears to be rife with some pretty sexist behavior. Things have gotten so bad that the ACLU even called for an investigation (one which the EOCC currently appears to be conducting) into the bias against woman directors, calling their treatment a "civil rights violation" and worse for womens' civil rights than the U.S. military.

But if you were hoping that now everything would magically and instantaneously become better for female filmmakers, then think again. According to a new study, things are just as bad -- worse, in fact -- for female filmmakers behind the scenes as they were back in 2001.

Every year, the Center for the Study Of Women and Television In Film at San Diego University releases an survey aptly titled "Celluloid Ceiling," which tracks the number of female directors, producers, editors and other professionals in the movie-making industry. Generally what they find is not good -- that women, as a whole, are woefully underrepresented in Hollywood, especially when it comes to the big blockbuster films that make the most money at the box office.

2015's survey, which was published today (January 12), found that women make up only 19% of the filmmakers working behind the scenes of the 250 top grossing movies that year. This is up slightly from the 2014 survey, which found 17% of filmmakers to be women; however, it only matches the highest employment level every achieved since the survey first began in 1998 -- a number that was first hit in their 2001 study.

On the whole, female producers appear to fare the best at 26%, followed by editors at 22%, executive producers at 20%, writers at 11%, directors at 9%, and cinematographers at a measly 6%. The percentage of directors has also remained fairly static since the study first began in 1998, and while the percentage of editors, producers, executive producers and cinematographers has increased only slightly since then, the percentage of writers has actually decreased.

“Now, the issue is getting a push from a cultural consciousness that supports diversity," Martha M. Lauzen, exectuvie director of the center, said in a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter. "But the numbers have yet to change. The film industry is a large industry, and it takes a long time for change to occur.”

There is one silver lining to this year's study, of course: when there is a female director on set, it elevates the level of women working behind the scenes across the board. On the 500 highest grossing films with female directors, 53 percent of writers, 32 percent of editors and 12 percent of cinematographers were also women. So the more the industry does to focus its attention on female directors and producers, the more it will start to shift the gender balance to, with any luck, eventually achieve parity.

It's just going to take a lot longer than we'd like.