Two Hollywood celebrities recently spoke out against workplace sexism in the film industry by claiming female directors are almost non-existent. Barbra Streisand and Jessica Chastain are talking to the press and hoping to raise awareness about Hollywood’s sexism problem. Chastain, the star of movies such as Interstellar and Zero Dark Thirty, claims she has rarely seen women leading the set while making her films. Streisand claims Hollywood had more female directors in 1916 than it does today.
Recent data shows a serious lack of female directors in Hollywood. According to a press release sent out by the Director’s Guild of America, only 6.4 percent of feature films created in 2013 and 2014 were directed by women.
A University of Southern California study presented a theory on why Hollywood is unfriendly to aspiring female directors. According to the study, many female directors meet institutional biases after moving from making short films to larger feature films. In fact, only 4.1 percent of the top grossing feature films over the last 13 years were directed by women. The study mentions that 58 percent of female directors were unable to secure financing needed for larger projects, a barrier that did not exist for male counterparts.
Why the EEOC is Investigating the Film Industry for Sexism
Streisand, Chastain and many other women in Hollywood are understandably upset at such widespread gender discrimination in an important industry. Calls for justice have led the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate gender discrimination in Hollywood. Female directors throughout Hollywood have received notices of the EEOC investigation and invitations to participate in interviews. The Directors Guild of America’s Women’s Steering Committee has claimed it is preparing to schedule interviews with the EEOC.
If the EEOC finds more evidence of gender discrimination in Hollywood, legal action, including class-action lawsuits, may become a real possibility for the film industry.