Hollywood's Huge Gender Gap in One Disturbing Statistic


The Oscar circus has officially arrived! Time to watch men talk about their creative process and ambitions, while women get asked about their celebrity crushes and get glam-cam ogled.

This year, the gender inequality parade will start on the red carpet and transition right into the award ceremony: Results gathered by the Cinemetrics project have revealed some major inequalities regarding the screen time that this year's nominated actors and actresses received.

All of the Oscar-nominated leading actors average 85 minutes on screen, while the lead actresses average only 57 minutes. That means that these actors got about 150% more screen time than their female counterparts.

We feel ya, Merida. Image Credit: Giphy

The trend continues in the supporting actor/actress category, where all competing actors averaged 59 minutes, while all competing actresses averaged just 42 minutes. Last year's Oscar nominees were just as bad: Male stars enjoyed more than double the screen time, averaging 100 minutes versus lead actress' 49 minutes.

The fact that screen time is consistently portioned out unequally shows how little innovation is happening regarding to story craft in Hollywood. David Bordwell, author of the film studies textbook Film Art: An Introduction, offered an unsettling interpretation of the stats: "Male stars are typically the protagonists in action or goal-oriented narratives that require the viewer to follow the story through the lead's experiences. Female stars are more typically cast in melodramas that require the lead to serve as a hub connecting different characters and subplots."

Sooo women in Hollywood are hubs? That has to change. And the first step towards recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Image Credit: Columbia Pictures via Business Insider

Many filmmakers don't even realize they're treating their subjects unfairly. Jay Cassidy, one of the chief editors of American Hustle, wagered in a New York Times interview that his leading man, Christian Bale, and leading woman, Amy Adams, spent equal time on screen. But Bale has 60 minutes of screen time compared to Adams' 46 minutes, which is a significant difference. 

That's why these numbers are important; to eliminate these inequalities, we need to identify them. When numbers like these are staring filmmakers right in the face, they are likely to start making more of a conscious effort to treat women and men equally in their films. We can only hope they get their act together.