And before you think “Well, sure, that’s less than half of what would really be ideal representation, but maybe it’s a sign of progress,” this is the lowest level of gender equity in roles in five years.
According to a report released today by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, in the 100 top grossing movies of 2012, only 28.4% of characters who spoke a line of dialogue were women, down from 32.8% three years ago.
Here’s some of the numbers, from the LA Times:
When they are on-screen, 31.6% of women are shown wearing sexually revealing clothing, the highest percentage in the five years the USC researchers have been studying the issue.
For teen girls, the number who are provocatively dressed is even higher: 56.6% of teen girl characters in 2012 movies wore sexy clothes, an increase of 20% since 2009.
Movies with a better gender representation and with less objectified female characters tended to be the ones who appeared in movies written or directed by women. In a way, this result could be somewhat predicted by the study’ focus on top grossing films: writing and directing jobs are one of the areas in which the film industry has been even slower to raise the glass ceiling than in speaking roles. However, it’s much easier for a woman to get the writing or directing job on an indie film than the kind of big studio productions that become the industry’s big money makers. Ironic, given the prominent and much publicized success of lady-led blockbuster films these days like The Hunger Games, Twilight, Bridesmaids, Brave, and Snow White and the Huntsman.
Study author Stacy L. Smith says it all comes down to what the industry thinks it knows, not hard facts. “Industry perceptions of the audience drive much of what we see on-screen. There is a perception that movies that pull [a male audience] sell. Given that females go to the movies as much as males, the lack of change is likely due to entrenched ways of thinking and doing business that perpetuate the status quo.”
Hey, at least 28.4% is still 50% better representation for women than that of the US Senate.