The women of the entertainment industry continue to face a pretty insane amount of discrimination, and a group of them have decided not to take it anymore.
Back in March, the Women’s Media Summit brought together over 100 women in leadership roles across the entertainment industries to address the pervasive sexism in the industry, which they view as a civil rights issue. And now the group has put forth a white paper on exactly how to combat the discrimination women and particularly women of color face. According to the paper:
Yet, today, women hold only 3% of above-the-line and green-lighting positions in the media industry and are vastly underrepresented as lead characters in film and television. Women of color, older women, and women with disabilities are particularly neglected in entertainment media.
Unless women of all backgrounds tell half the stories and gain equal control of the messaging, our most influential cultural export will not only lack the fundamental authenticity of character and spirit that informs the beliefs, customs, and practices that influence our stories, but gender equality in society will remain elusive.
Other numbers the paper cites are equally bad. Only 7% of the top 250 grossing films of 2016 were directed by women. When it comes to other influential roles behind the camera, like executive producers, cinematographers, writers, and directors, women only make up 17%. I mean this past Sunday, Reed Morano became the first woman in 22 years to win an Emmy for drama series directing. And women continue to be blamed for being shut out of all these fields! It’s crazy.
For the most part the plan focuses on three general approaches: policy, finance, and social pressure. The policy approach includes “Litigation against gender discriminatory practices,” lobbying lawmakers to address discrimination in policy, and offer tax credits as an incentive to hire more female filmmakers. Financial support doesn’t include funding the films themselves but the marketing of them as well.
The plan also includes enacting a consumer campaign to draw attention to the issue. The group launched GradeMyMovie.com, where audiences can identify and score films that include more women and people of color behind the scenes—and boycott films that score poorly. The standards are a bit strange—for instance, First They Killed My Father, which has a female director, two female screenwriters (one of whom is a person of color) and an almost entirely POC cast, gets a C on gender and a D on race—but with some fine-tuning, it could be effective.
It does seem like one of the most comprehensive approaches to combatting institutional sexism, and here’s hoping it works.