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It’s never really a good year for the Bechdel test.  But is it possible that things are degenerating for women in film? According to a study done by USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, the answer is yes. A study by Dr. Stacy L. Smith found that over the five years that the researchers looked at — 2007 to 2012 — the most recent, 2012, was the worst for women onscreen.  Annenberg’s  study found that:

“Out of 4,475 speaking characters on screen, only 28.4 percent are female. This translates into a ratio of 2.51 males to every 1 female on screen. 2012 reveals the lowest percentage of on-screen females (28.4 percent) across the 5-year sample. Only 6 percent of the top-grossing films in 2012 featured a balanced cast, or females in 45-54.9 percent of all speaking roles. Just over a quarter of all narrators (27.5 percent) are female.”

Additionally, women who appear onscreen are depicted more sexualized, especially in the 13- to 20-year-old age group. Last year, over half (56.6 percent) the women in that age group was shown in “sexy attire.”

Behind the scenes isn’t much better. Annenberg’s study found that ”only 16.7 percent of the 1,228 directors, writers, and producers are female across the 100 top-grossing films of 2012.”  Female directors were out-numbered five to one in 2012 and “only 24 women have directed top-grossing films in the last five years.”

If this years Academy Awards were any indication of how tough it is to be a woman in Hollywood, well, here are the hard numbers.

And these dismal stats speak for themselves. We have a dearth of females in all facets of the film industry: we need more ladies in front of and behind the camera.  Hopefully with more women making films, the notion of the “female gaze” and women as sexual objects on screen (“We saw your boobs!“) will diminish.

[USC Annenberg]

Email me at Sarah.Gray@TheFrisky.com.

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