More Women Directed Top Movies In 2020 Than Ever Before

More Women Directed Top Movies In 2020 Than Ever Before

The number of women directors in top-grossing films have been significantly increasing for the past 2 years.

2020 seemed to be the worst year for film and television, but surprisingly, the seemingly cursed year also brought some positivity for women in the industry.

New research from The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University has found out that more women had directed top movies in 2020 than ever before.

Female helmers represented 16% of directors working on the top 100 grossing films in 2020, a significant increase from 12% in 2019 and 4% in 2018.

Some of the highest-grossing films this year are from Patty Jenkins ('Wonder Woman 1984') and Cathy Yan (“Birds of Prey”).


“The good news is that we’ve now seen two consecutive years of growth for women who direct,” Dr. Martha Lauzen said in a statement published by Variety.

She added: “This breaks a recent historical pattern in which the numbers trend up one year and down the next. The bad news is that fully 80% of top films still do not have a woman at the helm.”


We all know that the Coronavirus pandemic has hampered a lot of productions and film releases in 2020. Among those big-budgeted films that suffered are from female directors Chloe Zhao’s 'The Eternals' and Cate Shortland’s 'Black Widow,' which could have significantly improved the statistics further.

Both films are now being pushed for 2021 release.

Speaking of the pandemic, the global situation has prompted the study to also track (for the first time) women’s employment on films included on Digital Entertainment Group’s Watched at Home Top 20 Chart between March and December 2020. Although satisfying, the result is not as impressive as the data taken from the top-grossing films.

The study found out that 19% of all directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the watched at home films were women, a little lower than top-grossing films' 21% for the same roles.

Out of that 19%, only 10% sit on the director's chair, compared to the 16% (out of 21 %) female directors on the top box office hits.

But while the significant increase in the number of female filmmakers in the industry calls for a celebration, it is also worth noting that other roles are not enjoying the same momentum for women.

Birds of Prey

For the highest-grossing films, the number of women in producer jobs and executive producer positions each increased by just 2% (growing to 28% and 21% respectively), while cinematographers increased by only 1% to 3%.

However, the number of editors and writers both fell, editors by 5% to a total of 18% and writers by 8% to a total of 12%.

Furthermore, the study also revealed that there is a correlation between female directors and other female employees.

A female director is more likely to hire women to be editors, cinematographers, or other important behind-the-scenes roles.

Lauzen emphasized that there is still a ‘stunning’ imbalance between men and women in filmmaking. Hopefully, the trend continues, and we'll get to see even more women working on top behind-the-scene roles in the upcoming years. 

The study titled The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top U.S. Films of 2020 is overseen by the center’s director Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D. Click here to read the entire study.

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