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No Matter Which Country Makes A Movie, Women Are The Minority

A new study released Monday from the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative (MDSC) at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found a lack of gender equity in international films. In the 120 films the MDSC analyzed, only 30.9 percent of speaking and named characters were women.

This study is the first from the institute to take a specifically international perspective. Rather than looking at the top films overall, the MDSC compared 10 domestically popular movies with the top 10 films from the 10 largest international markets: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United Kingdom (the study also looked at 10 films produced collaboratively in the U.S. and U.K.).

The United States is far from a leader: Of the 11 most profitable film-producing territories, the United States ranks near the bottom in allocating speaking roles to women.


The MDSC, which studies the portrayal of women and minority groups in film, also found that women were more than twice as likely as men “to be shown in sexually revealing attire.” (I’ve written before about the movie business’s struggles featuring women in meaningful ways.)

Earlier reports from the MDSC that focused on domestically produced films found that fewer than sixteen percent of films exhibit gender parity, and only three in ten characters with speaking roles are women.

The Initiative has also found that women are in the extreme minority behind the camera. A 2013 study analyzed 600 films and found only 15.9 percent of the 1,374 writers, directors and producers involved in creating the films were women. Barely two percent of directors were women.

Read the MDSC’s latest report here.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.