How Few Women Got Leading Roles in 2014

leading roles

You’d think that in 2015, Hollywood be streets ahead of itself in terms of offering up brilliant leading roles for women. Way back when, the silver screen was dominated by men, both in front of and behind the camera but surely we’ve come a long way since then? We certainly don’t struggle to list off more than a handful of famous actresses, but the leading roles, however, are still few and far between. To be more specific, in 2014, only 12% of the top 100 grossing films in Hollywood had female lead characters, which is even worse than the previous year. Shocking figure, right?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, women were vastly underrepresented in protagonist roles, as per a study that examined over 23,000 roles. Showing up the continuing issues with ethnicity in movies, only 11% of that small pool of female characters in 2014 were African-American. Worse still, only 4% were Latina and Asian. Gender stereotyping is still alive and well, as the study also showed that on-screen women were cast as mothers, girlfriends or wives to the leading husbands.

Adding weight to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler‘s Golden Globes remarks about older women in Hollywood, the study also showed that when women did manage to land leading roles, they were always younger than their male counterparts.

Commenting on their findings, Martha Lauzen at the Center for the Study of Women in Television at San Diego State University says: “The chronic underrepresentation of girls and women reveals a kind of arrested development in the mainstream film industry… It is unfortunate that these beliefs continue to limit the industry’s relevance in today’s marketplace.”


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