LOS ANGELES — The ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) and the national ACLU Women’s Rights Project today sent letters asking federal and state civil rights agencies to investigate the systemic failure to hire women directors at all levels of the film and television industry.
The letters, sent to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), provide statistical evidence that reveals dramatic disparities in the hiring of women directors in both television and big-budget films, bolstered anecdotal accounts gathered from 50 women directors. Under state and federal law, the civil rights agencies have authority to investigate discriminatory practices that violate employment discrimination laws.
“Blatant and extreme gender inequality in this large and important industry is shameful and unacceptable,” said Melissa Goodman, director of the ACLU SoCal’s LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project. “The time has come for new solutions to this serious civil rights problem.”
Last year, 70 network shows—nearly a third—hired no women directors at all. The numbers for women remained static from the previous report. White men directed 69 percent of all television episodes analyzed. “Women directors simply aren’t getting a fair opportunity to succeed, because of systemic discrimination,” said Ariela Migdal, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project.
“It’s time for our civil rights enforcement agencies to take action to ensure that women have a level playing field.”
By some estimates, fewer women are working as film and television directors today than there were two decades ago.
For example, in 2014, women were only 7 percent of directors on the top 250 grossing films. This number is 2 percentage points lower than it was in 1998.
The failure to hire women directors in film and television cannot be attributed to a lack of qualified or interested women. Women are well represented in prominent film schools such as USC, NYU and UCLA; while hard numbers are hard to come by, estimates place the number of women students focusing on directing as roughly equal to the number of men.
Hollywood employers don’t get a free pass to violate civil rights laws. The industry as a whole has been and remains generally very responsive and supportive of civil rights movements, but it hasn’t done enough to own up to and address this glaring civil rights problem it has created and perpetuates.
Read the letters: https://www.aclusocal.org/filmequality
Media contact: Sandra Hernandez 213.977.5247, shernandez@aclusocal.org; Ed Boyer 213.977.5242, eboyer@aclusocal.org