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Women in show biz: a tipping point?


"You've come a long way, baby." I used to believe this. Back in the 70s when we got our very own cigarette, Virginia Slims! When Gloria Steinem wouldn't take any crap (she still won't). When we could wear pants anywhere we wanted. "Finally!" I thought. "Women are becoming equal in every way." Haaaaaa. SO naive. Today women are still paid less, still discriminated against, still undervalued. Here are some quick facts [source: The American Association of University Women]:

  • The pay gap has barely budged in a decade. At the current rate, the gap won’t close for more than 100 years.

  • The gender pay gap is worse for mothers, and it only grows with age.

  • Women in every state experience the pay gap, but in some states it’s worse than others.

  • Women face a pay gap in nearly every occupation.

This is obviously really depressing.

BUT WAIT ... TAKE A LOOK AT THIS.

There are a FEW professions in which women make more than men.

And check out at the one at the top of the list:

[Source: Business Insider]

Of course, this doesn't mean there are more women producers and directors, but only that those who exist get paid a little more. We're still way underrepresented.

This from a 2015 article in Variety: "Despite all the debate around the lack of opportunities for women, the film industry continues to be dominated by men, new research shows. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, in 2014 85% of films had no female directors, 80% had no female writers, 33% had no female producers, 78% had no female editors and 92% had no female cinematographers."

OK, so how do we increase the numbers? Is there change in the air there, too? I'm cautiously optimistic. Not only because of Hillary, although that's pretty amazing, but because I've noticed that there seems to be slow but steady progress.

I think much of it is due to the herculean efforts of organizations like Women in Film. For nearly four years, WIF has been conducting an awareness campaign and raising funds for research on the falling-out points for women, leading to their Systemic Change Project, which is already showing results.

The new guarded optimism was recently articulated by a few prominent women movers and shakers in the industry. Here are a few of their recent quotations, from another excellent Variety article:

From director Katherine Hardwicke, after booking a directing job on a DreamWorks television project — and then another gig, executive producing and helming the first two episodes of USA Network’s crime thriller “Eyewitness.” “People want to be on the right side of history and do something positive instead of getting shamed in the media, like the article revealing there were no women directors on several studios’ upcoming release schedules. All this attention is great and it’s making people think twice — and some people are already taking action.”

From director S.J. Clarkson, who recently worked with a crew of about 50% women — for the first time in her directing career — on the set of the show "Vinyl" at HBO: “There’s a risk aversion in this business and women get caught in that. It’s been a systemic problem, partially because of a lack of role models, which is discouraging,” she says. “But women should not accept limitations."

From director Lesli Linka Glatter: “You have to be incredibly tenacious and everyone needs a hand. Everyone needs the door to be opened a little bit and any person who is working, male or female, has had someone grab the hand and help. And that’s what the women that are working have to do."

“It feels like the conversation has changed and that we’re at a tipping point — like there was for gay marriage,” says Marielle Heller (“The Diary of a Teenage Girl”), the only woman nominated in the feature film directing categories at this year’s DGA Awards.

Well, let's bloody well hope so. It could be ... it's feeling more and more attainable ... that Hillary's ascension, and possible triumph, are just the beginning of a really brave new world.


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© 2015 by Suzanne Ford.