Washington Secrets

Study: Hollywood execs have own 'war on women,' choking off major roles, salary from women

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Sports,Movies,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Media,Television,Newspapers,War on Women,Gender Issues,Feminism

Hollywood executives, many of whom supported President Obama's claim that the GOP is engaged in a “war on women,” are overseeing an entertainment industry that shuts women out of key roles, director and producer positions and even big, male-sized, paychecks, according to a new and massive survey of women in media.

In their third annual Status of Women in the U.S. Media, 2014, the Women's Media Center revealed that women represented just 28.8 percent of speaking characters in the top grossing films of 2012, had just 16 percent of the top executive movie jobs in 2013, and of the 16 biggest paychecks for actors per film, not one went to a female actress.

The top earning actress, Angelina Jolie, earned $33 million, roughly the same amount as the two lowest-ranked men on that list provided by the New York Film Academy. It also quoted a 2013 Forbes ranking that showed the top 10 actresses making a collective $181 million versus $465 million for the top 10 men, or about 39 percent what the guys took home.

Ditto in other media, like talk radio, where there are no women among the top 10 of Talkers magazine’s “Heavy Hundred,” and print, where 36 percent of newsroom staff are women. That figure has been stable for years.

The worst field for women: Sports reporting. The report released Wednesday found that of more than 150 print publications and websites, 90 percent of editors were white males.

But thanks to ESPN, women had good roles as editors and columnists. Take the 23 ESPN female columnists out of the mix, and there are just 12 women left in the field. “Without those ESPN staffers the percentage of female columnists would slip from 12.8 percent to 4.8 percent of all columnists,” said the 66-page study.

The study, based on multiple reports about the status of women in all forms of media, will be released by the group co-founded by Gloria Steinem at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Kristin Gilger, associate dean at ASU’s Cronkite School, said, “I’ve worked in journalism and journalism education for more than 30 years, so I was pretty sure I was well aware of how women are faring in the media.” But, she added, "women, it seems, have come far only if you count progress in inches. This report reminds us all of how important it is to take a step back, see where we’re at and pay attention to how far we still have to go.”

Karen Finney, host of MSNBC's “Disrupt with Karen Finney,” is moderating an ASU panel discussing the report Wednesday. She said, “As this report vividly illustrates, we have a long way to go toward insuring that reality across the spectrum and at all levels of media.”

Key highlights from the report provided in advance to Secrets:

— As newsroom staffing declined 6.4 percent from 2011 to 2012, the overall tally of women staffers continued to hover at 36 percent, a figure largely unchanged since 1999. Nevertheless, the count for women of color continued its more extreme fluctuations.

-- The number of women in radio news jumped 8 percent from 2012 to 2013, narrowing one of the historically widest gender gaps in the news industry. However, elsewhere in broadcast news, there were, as examples, losses in female on-air talent and broadcast managers.

-- White men continued to dominate the ranks of Sunday morning news talk show guests, except on a single MSNBC show with a black female host.

— Two women — 1.09 percent — were among the 183 sports talk radio hosts on Talkers magazine’s “Heavy Hundred” list. The top ten among Talker’s news talk show “Heavy Hundred” included no women.

— More than 150 print publications and websites covering sports — an arena whose editors are 90 percent white and 90 percent male — were slammed with an “F” in an Associated Press Sports Editors-commissioned study.

— Over a five-year period ending in 2012, the 500 top-grossing movies had 565 directors, 33 of whom were black and two of that 33 were black women.

— Women represent 28.8 percent of speaking characters in the top-grossing films in 2012.

— Only six percent of the top 100 films in 2012 hired a balanced cast of women and men.

— For production of the 250 top-grossing domestically made films of 2013, women accounted for 16 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors, slightly lower than the 2013 and 1998 figures.

— According to a two-month snapshot in 2013, men wrote 82 percent of all film reviews.

— Women snared 43 percent of speaking parts in prime-time TV, according to the latest study, up from 41 percent previously. Those women, however, tended to be much younger than their male acting counterparts.

— More white women but fewer women of color have been directing prime-time TV shows but the overall numbers for women has remained virtually unchanged.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.
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