The yawning gender gap in the European film industry showed only a marginal improvement as a study reveals that women accounted for only 23% of directors, a lone percentage point up from the 22% recorded in a previous study.
The “Female professionals in European film production” study published by the European Audiovisual Observatory, authored by Patrizia Simone, looks at the period 2016–2020 and also finds that female presence was lowest among cinematographers (10%) and composers (9%).
The gender gap was less pronounced among producers and screenwriters with women accounting for 33% of producers and 27% of screenwriters active in European feature films. Overall, between 2016-2020 the average share of female directors per film was only 20%, with no significant evolution over the years. This figure was 25% for screenwriters.
The share of films by female-majority teams was higher for documentary films (28.3%) than for other film genres like live-action fiction (17.9%) and animated fiction (15.8%).
The only professional field somewhat favorable for women was acting, with women accounting for 39% of all actors appearing in a lead role in a feature film.
The numbers fly in the face of the European Union’s Gender Equality Strategy, which aims for a gender-equal Europe by 2025. For the media industry specifically, Eurimages also has a Gender Equality Strategy and the numbers here are slightly better. Recent statistics collected from the Eurimages Fund show that projects with female directors accounted for a 38% share of Eurimages-supported films in 2020 as compared to a 17% share in 2012 and a 21% share in 2016.
Individual European Union member states, including France, Sweden, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg and Austria have gender parity financial production incentives. Major film festivals including Cannes, Berlin, Venice, London, Goteborg, Locarno, Annecy and CPH:DOX had signed the 5050 by 2020 Gender Parity Pledge, which strove for better gender representation and transparency by the year 2020.
In addition, Women in Film and Television International has teamed with the global post-production company Chimney to make a gender incentive for change — 10% for 50/50 — where production companies get a 10% discount if the production is gender balanced.