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Women in Film: Struggling to Shine

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Temple chapter.

For their gender, women are often set into a category that greatly diminishes their chance of achieving any solid and/or lead role in the entertainment community. This cultivates an image that women are not necessarily important members of society. If we are not seeing women in these lead roles that depict them as what they are, doctors, lawyers, academics, etc. then society, and the coming generations, will continue to believe that women are not as important or relevant as men.

Once being cast, the roles women do obtain often portray those same images of a stereotypical woman that does not really carry any significant weight in the film, is hypersexualized or series nor does it accurately portray the large majority of the living-breathing women in society.

Of course, this is not true across the board, however the statistics clearly show that the majority of film and television acts in this way. For example, an article by IndieWire shows that, “Male characters were more likely than females to be identified only by a work related role, such as a doctor or business executive (61% of males vs. 34% of females),” and went on to state, “Female characters were more likely than males to be identified only by a personal life-related role such as a wife or mother (58% of females vs. 31% of males).”

Delving further into this issue, the societal connection women have to their bodies and sex makes it hard for women to break away in roles that do not follow storylines relating to those topics. An article by Variety gives a valid insight into this issue, “They’re the girlfriend, the mother or the wife. Their value is determined in relation to the people they bed, marry or birth,” it states, “Male dominance in this arena is out of touch with the demographics of the movie-going population, given that women buy half of the tickets sold each year. What they’re seeing on screen are women who are less defined than their male counterparts.”

Once created, for many of the above reasons, movies are not gender equal and according to statistics in an article by IndieWire, the numbers prove that as well, “Only 11% of the 700 films were gender balanced or featured girls/women in roughly half of all speaking parts.”

Using these numbers, statistics and insights it becomes clear that through the images shown on the big and small screens are not accurate depictions of women, but instead reimagined versions of what they should be in the eyes of the majority white male population calling the shots in Hollywood.

However, this dynamic is present for women trying to obtain jobs in the industry as well, not just acting roles, “Hollywood does still seem to operate as an old boys’ club [and] according to a 2015 study by the University of California, Los Angeles, the top executives at major Hollywood film studios are 94 percent white and 100 percent male,” an article by The American Association of University Women states.

This makes it exponentially harder for women to obtain jobs as filmmakers or as part of the filmmaking process. In the article by The American Association of University Women, it states the author of the previously discuss UCLA study, Darnell Hunt attributes the large gender gap to biases, “Male Hollywood executives ‘want to keep their jobs,’” Hunt told NPR, ‘They want to succeed. And they feel that their best chance for success is by surrounding themselves with other white males, basically.’”  

Shonda Rhimes’ production company, Shondaland, gives women the opportunites to play roles where they are women portraying images of women doing what they do in real life, working in leadership roles as doctors, lawyers, politicians etc. These images can lead to a better-rounded portrayal of the world around us and teach other women that they too can be in those positions.


Temple University Student | Journalism Major
Logan is a junior journalism major, and serves as Campus Correspondent.  She is also the proud president of Delta Phi Epsilon, Delta Nu, her sorority. Logan is typically super busy, but still dedicates hours to reading a Cosmo from front to back...twice. Logan loves all things social media, especially following puppy accounts on Instagram. Her dream is to break into the magazine industry and help empower other women to pursue their dreams, whatever that may be.