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Hollywood and Gender Equity Debates in the #metoo Time’s Up Era

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Abstract

From the gender pay gap to scarcity of women directing $100+ million projects, a dynamic debate around gender inequity in Hollywood has emerged in recent years. In an industry with a historically long record of systemic gender imbalance, quantitative studies illustrate how men continue to dominate above-the-line positions—director, producer, and screenwriter. For the top-grossing 250 Hollywood films of 2016, 13% had female screenwriters whereas women directed only 7%. On the one hand, employment statistics are an important marker of slow industry-wide change in a charged moment characterized by much rhetoric and little action. On the other hand, this data dominates conversations from trade coverage to film festival panels. Many of these studies do not move beyond the numbers in order to explore the lived experience of female media professionals and the complexities of navigating the Hollywood boy’s club. This chapter offers a critical industry studies analysis of women filmmakers in Hollywood rooted in both historical context and a contemporary perspective. First, I offer a historical overview of women’s work from the 1920s silent era to 2000s Conglomerate Hollywood. While few female filmmakers actively worked for the Hollywood studios prior to the 1980s, women contributed to the studio system through invisible, and often devalued, clerical and service work. How specific filmmaking positions were gendered in the past as either masculine or feminine work is key to understanding contemporary production cultures. Second, I discuss how conversations about rampant gender inequity and sexual harassment and misconduct accelerated since 2015 resulting in the #metoo and Time’s Up movements. Grounded trade publications, industry events, and social media campaigns, this chapter considers how industry gatekeepers and A-list talent address structural issues in this moment by harnessing the visibility of live broadcast events and calling on the individual power of top-tier executives and talent to take responsibility. What results is a wave of industry-wide awareness that ignites visible popular feminist activism yet still places the burden to develop and implement equitable policy initiatives back on the individual women fighting for structural change.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-39070-9_14
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Correspondence to Courtney Brannon Donoghue .

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Brannon Donoghue, C. (2020). Hollywood and Gender Equity Debates in the #metoo Time’s Up Era. In: Liddy, S. (eds) Women in the International Film Industry. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-39070-9_14

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