Social Navigation

Women still outnumber men, SDSU finds – The Hollywood Reporter


In movies women talk (As Mark Wahlberg said) – but not as much as men.

Male speaking characters outnumbered their female counterparts by 63 percent to 37 percent in the 100 highest-grossing domestic films of 2022, according to the latest “It’s a (Celluloid) World” report from the San Diego State Center for the Study of Women in Television. And a movie.

This year’s report added demographic analysis of more than 2,100 characters to a body of research that now spans two decades, 1,200 movies and more than 27,000 characters. In 2022, nearly a third of films (33 percent) are starring in women, roughly matching the trend in the past five years and up from 16 percent in 2002, the first year of the study. Interestingly, horror films were more likely to have female leads (43% of heroines appeared in scary films) than males (only 4% of men did).

Women made up 38 percent of main characters — defined as appearing in more than one scene and being “instrumental to storylines” — in 2022, with little skew year-over-year. There were no non-binary or transgender main characters. Of the top 100 movies of 2022, 0.1% of speaking characters were transgender and only one character was explicitly non-binary.

In general, movies tend to put young women on screen. The most recognizable decade for both men and women was the thirties, while the second decade for men was the forties (29 percent for male characters) compared to the twenties for female characters (20 percent). In fact, there were 40 fewer female characters on the set of 2022 films (14 percent) than in 2015 (20 percent). “Age is not just a hiring issue for actors,” said Martha Luzen, founder and executive director of the center. “When female characters are relatively young, they are less likely to hold positions of great personal or professional power. Viola Davis and Cate Blanchett are wonderful actors, but they are also compelling, at least in part, because they have achieved the gravitas and life experience needed to play those roles.”

White women held the majority of female characters (64.2% of speaking roles, up from 60.6% in 2021, and 61.3% of main characters, up from 57.6%). Speaking roles for women of all races and other ethnicities declined in 2022 (18 percent black, 6.9 percent Latina, 8.1 percent Asian, 0.8 percent Middle Eastern and North African, 0.4 percent multiracial and zero Native American), and black women, Middle Eastern and North African women Only (21.6 percent and 0.3 percent respectively) also did not see a decrease in representation among the main characters (7 percent were Hispanic, 6.6 percent Asian, 0.7 percent multiracial and again no Native American).

From 2020 to 2021, the increases in the numbers of major Latin American and Asian characters were due to films featuring a higher concentration of characters in these groups, such as in the heightsAnd West Side Story And Raya and the last dragonLusine explained in a statement. “However, the lack of similar films in 2022 has resulted in lower proportions of females in these groups.”

The SDSU study comes two-and-a-half weeks after the release of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s annual demographic analysis of lead characters/characters in film, which found that representation of women of color reached a 16-year high in 2022 (16th of 100 highest-grossing films In the year).

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.