The film industry is one that desperately lacks female influence, so Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ election as President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a particularly cool victory. In its 86-year history, the Academy has only had two other female presidents — the most recent being almost 30 years ago. Cheryl Boone Isaacs is also the first ever African-American president for the Academy.
The election of a woman of color to be president of the Academy is a pretty big deal. Although women make up just over half of the U.S. population, only one woman to every 4.8 men works behind-the-scenes on films. According to the most recent data from The Geena Davis Institute On Gender And Media, which seeks more progressive portrayals of women in the media, “Across 1,565 content creators, only 7 percent of directors, 13 percent of writers, and 20 percent of producers are female.”
Studies have also shown that women are more likely to be portrayed positively when there are women working behind the camera. In fact, if there is just one female writer working on a film, screen time for female characters increases by 10.4 percent. If there aren’t women writing, directing, and producing films, there is less of a chance for positive female figures to appear on screen. Even worse, the gender imbalance in film has statistically not changed much since the 1950s.
The data is also pretty dismal for people of color in the film industry. According to Colorlines, a 2009 study by the Screen Actors Guild found only 27 of roles are played by people of color, with Latinos being the most poorly represented.
One hopes women like Cheryl Boone Isaacs represent hope for more gender equality and representation of people of color in the film industry.
[Image via The Hollywood Reporter]