In 2010, for the first time ever, the Academy Award for best direction was won by a woman (Kathryn Bigelow). In the history of the awards, over 80 years, only 3 women had ever been nominated for best director – that’s a representation of 0.75% of nominations, despite 16% of directors being women.
Women are under-represented both in the media workforce and in media awards. In feature films, women make up 29% of producers, 20% of writers and 16% of directors. While this participation rate is low, and the reasons behind it ought to be examined, far more distressing is the comparative recognition women receive for their work: of the top 250 grossing box office films in 2011 only 5% were directed by women, and fewer than that received any awards or even nominations.
If you’re reading this column, we can probably agree that this discrepancy is not a result of women being inherently worse at directing or producing films. The low representation and recognition of women in media is a reflection of the society we live in. During collective this week we discussed the portrayal of women in the media, and many great points were made about the shallow stereotypes put forward: women are either bitchy or sickly sweet, innocent virgins or ‘sluts’. With a traditional media representation like that, how many women would want to work in the industry?
Other issues involve a lack of women mentors within the industry and poor financial compensation for women. True to common trends in all careers, a study from 2011 showed women in film were on significantly lower salaries than men both in production and other roles, and regardless of whether it was free-to-air or subscription TV channels.
When faced with huge imbalances such as this it can be difficult to know how to make a difference. As women, and men, we can support and encourage women in the industry by acknowledging their unrecognized work – you can start this week by attending the Seen & Heard festival’s final night on Thursday 21st March at the Red Rattler, Marrickville. Tickets $15 for adults and $10 for students.
Seen & Heard aims to showcase films with women involved in major production roles (writing, producing and directing). The festival is back for it’s fourth year and is bigger and better than ever, showing some incredible short films and celebrating diversity and intersectionality. This Thursday is the third and final night and promises to be something pretty special, with fictional and documentary films from across the globe including Australia, UK, Germany and Puerto Rico.
If you are interesting in joining the Women’s Collective in attending Seen & Heard, or would like to be a part of the collective feel free to come along to our meetings at 1pm Wednesdays in the Women’s Room, Manning House. You can also email email@example.com, search for ‘Usyd Women’s Collective’ on Facebook or send us a tweet – @SRCwomens. Have a great week!