The push for more female directors working in Hollywood continues to be an uphill battle despite major successes by Ava DuVernay and others.
A recent study by the annual Celluloid Ceiling from San Diego State University found that women comprised just 8 percent of directors working on the top 250 Hollywood hits of 2018 — a decrease from the 11 percent they made up in 2017.
The study’s author, Dr. Martha Luazen, told Variety her findings “provides no evidence that the mainstream film industry has experienced the profound positive shift predicted by so many industry observers over the last year.”
She continued, “This radical underrepresentation is unlikely to be remedied by the voluntary efforts of a few individuals or a single studio.”
Some of the top films of the year were directed by women, including DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, which made her the first African-American woman to direct a film with a budget of more than $100 million.
Kay Cannon made a splash as well with this year’s Blockers starring John Cena and Leslie Mann. It grossed over $93 million worldwide and raked in $60 million in the U.S. box office.
Other women made great strides in 2018, such as Mimi Leder for her Ruth Bader Ginsberg biopic On the Basis of Sex, Josie Rourke’s Mary Queen of Scots and Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer starring Nicole Kidman.
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While the number of working female directors declined, women increased their numbers in other fields such as producing in which they comprised of 26 percent of producers, up from the 25 percent of 2017. Women also made up 21 percent of film editors from the 16 percent they represented in 2017.
When it comes to awards nominations, Mary Queen of Scots received a Screen Actors Guild Award nod for Margot Robbie, while Kidman received a Golden Globe nomination for her role in Destroyer.
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In November 2017, DuVernay told PEOPLE the lack of women and people of color in film is “intentional.”
“I would say that it’s quite intentional,” said DuVernay of Hollywood hiring practices. “You’re basically saying, ‘This is what we want, and this is what we’re going to have.’ There’s no way you can tell me that there hasn’t been effort put into exclusion.”
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DuVernay said it’s about much more than just entertaining audiences. “What you see you become, what you see increases your knowledge about the world and your place in it,” the filmmaker shared. “It’s imperative to equalize the playing field.”
“It’s not hard, it just takes intention,” she added. “I’ve heard some people say it’s reverse discrimination, but I can barely fix my mouth to answer a statement as ignorant as that. We’re trying to correct, lead by example. It’s an act of resistance.”