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What’s the New Term for Women Lacking Recognition in Hollywood? The Celluloid Ceiling

Women in Hollywood are in the spotlight this holiday season with leading roles in several movies. Despite this, there is still a long way to go for women both on camera and behind the scenes to break through what is being called the “celluloid ceiling.”

Nicole Kidman, Saoirse Ronan, Felicity Jones, and Margot Robbie are a few of the women who have led people to storm movie theatres in recent weeks.

Titles such as Mary Queen of Scots, Destroyer, Mary Poppins Returns, and Aquaman are bringing more opportunity for these actresses to star in the leading roles they deserve.

While it is incredible to see so many women-driven films, there is still a huge shortage in roles for women in Hollywood behind the scenes. Women are lacking representation in roles that are critical to these films, including directing and writing.

Recent Golden Globe nominations have supported this, with no women being nominated for Best Director, despite there being several women directors who have created award-worthy films this season.

More recognition is necessary in order for women in the industry to overcome the celluloid ceiling, whose name comes from an annual report that studies the role of women in the film industry. It connects to the glass ceiling women face within the workplace, referencing the film industry since celluloid is the material film stock was once made of.

The study, conducted by San Diego State University, did not find much progression for women in the industry in 2017.

Top films that had women starring in lead roles might have feigned success for the industry in terms of equality. Women comprised only 18 percent of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on top films in 2017.

Of the top 250 films researched, women, including Greta Gerwig and Patty Jenkins, directed 11 percent. This is up from 7 percent in 2016, which is still an extremely small percentage.

Women accounted for 25 percent of producers of the 250 top films. Additionally, women were 19 percent of executive producers, 16 percent of editors, 11 percent of writers, and 4 percent of cinematographers.

In terms of composition and sound editors/designers, numbers weren’t promising either. Women made up 3 percent of composers for these films, and 8 percent of sound editors.

Considering the large amount of films researched for this study, these figures are incredibly disappointing.

With these findings, the celluloid ceiling has become an obvious issue that needs to be solved.

While lead acting roles for women is important, allowing for women to produce, direct, and write films is equally as crucial. Only when there is representation (and recognition) for these women both on screen and off will the so-called celluloid ceiling dissolve.

How long will it take for Hollywood to achieve equality for women in the film industry?

Featured Image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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