Art And Culture

Study Finds Inequality Continues in Hollywood

Study Finds Inequality Continues in HollywoodStudy Finds Inequality Continues in Hollywood

A new University of Southern California (USC) report reveals that little has changed on screen or behind the camera regarding inequality in Hollywood.

The study examined 800 films from 2007 to 2015 (excluding 2011), analyzing 35,205 characters for gender, race/ethnicity and for the first time, the presence of disability. It was authored by Professor Stacy Smith and the Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the university website reported.

According to the study, 31.4% of all speaking characters across the 100 top films from 2015 were female, a figure that has not changed since 2007. While race/ethnicity has been a major focus of advocacy in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, only 26.3% of all characters were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. The report includes data on characters with disabilities that filled just 2.4% of all speaking roles.

"The findings reveal that Hollywood is an epicenter of cultural inequality," said Smith, founding director of the MDSC Initiative. "While the voices calling for change have escalated in number and volume, there is little evidence that this has transformed the movies that we see and the people hired to create them. Our reports demonstrate that the problems are pervasive and systemic".

Of the top 100 films of 2015, 49 included no Asian or Asian-American characters and 17 featured no black/African-American characters. Similarly, 45 films did not include a character with a disability.

Behind the camera, female directors represented just 4.1% of those hired on the 800 films evaluated. Women of color were nearly absent from those ranks, with just three black or African-American females and one Asian female in the director’s chair.

For the first time, the researchers collected data on characters with disabilities. Most of the characters were played by males, according to the study sample. "The small number of portrayals of disability is concerning, as is the fact that they do not depict the diversity within this community," Smith said.

The report also provides multiple solutions to addressing what Smith has previously referred to as the "inclusion crisis" facing Hollywood. These include strategies for reaching gender equality on screen within three years.