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Progress for European Women in the Audio-Visual Community – albeit slow – But in the US???

This is a call out to the many players concerned with women's roles and visions in cinema – working in their own silos – in the United States. There is a critical need for stepped up policy initiatives that not only improve the work opportunities and finances for women in all aspects of film, but that more succinctly ensure that women's stories and lives are equally portrayed in films.

Along with one hundred other women – mostly in Europe – I have just gotten off a webinar organized by a coalition of eight groups who are investigating and collecting data on women's role within the audio-visual industry in Europe. The over all picture is that there has been progress in the last decade – but that it has been way too slow. This is their fourth report. The first was in 2020. Many of the speakers identified their stepped up efforts emerging from the #MeToo movement.

Patrizia Simone, a film industry analyst,opened the session presenting the data from Lab Femmes de Cinema study. In a series of slides she showed what the most recent collection of data is based on material collected from LUMIERE.

A question did come of comparison in other countries, such as the United States. The response was that it was about the same. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media was referred to as collecting this data. I did not easily find a current comparable report on their websight. Dr. Martha M. Lauzen at San Diego State University has been collecting such data under the Celluloid Ceiling for 25 years. She found: “In 2022, women comprised 24% of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 grossing films.” [ Full report found here: ]

Lauzen goes on to break the figures down: “Women fared based as producers (31%), followed by executive producers (25%), editors (21%), writers (19%), directors (18%), and cinematographers (7%)”

Here is the significant difference from the European data.

There are far more women producing in the US which inflates the over-all number. As one can readily see all the creative and technical roles dip below the averaged figure. The cinematographer number at 7% in the US is 4 points lower than in Europe. Lauzen is not charting composers, which would more than likely bring the overall numbers in the US even lower.

Another critical comment that came out of the European discussion this morning was that if the production is being directed by a woman, the chances of more of the production behind the scene roles being filled by women was higher. This is a strong argument for getting more women into the director position.

Daphné Tepper, Policy Director, Media, Entertainment & Arts sector of UNI Europa addressed the issue of the gender pay gap. She discussed, the multiple roles that women – as mothers, caretakers, etc – have in society. This provides a different dynamic for women in their professional careers and needs addressing and affects their pay. She also underscored how money issues have been considered off limits for discussion and that needs to change.

Enrico Vannucci, Deputy Director, Eurimages, which funds productions, discussed how they are addressing better equity for women. One example, recognizing that women have a harder time achieving the budgets, Eurimages recently changes its policy on the percentage of funding they offer. Formerly restricted at 17% of the total production, for women they have now upped it to 25%.

Everyone mentioned the necessity of policy developments as essential in achieving equality for women in the audio-visual field. This is what is not happening here in the US. In my fifty plus years of working in this area – feminist media making and its dissemination to a wide audience – the failure to devise and address media policy with a gendered lens is severely lacking.

Some links:

The entire webinar recording will be available on this sight:

Patrizia Simone slides are available on the European Audiovisual Observatory website:

The prior year's webinars:

2022: Are We Making Progress?

2021: Where Do We Stand Exactly?

2020: 50/50 by 20/20 Are We There And What is Next?

Stay tuned. I will create a graph that combines the European and US workforce data.


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