Gender and age in Hollywood films in 2019

ANNUAL REPORT: Inequality in 1,300 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, LGBTQ &
Disability from 2007 to 2019
 (Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, USC, 2020)

The following statistics are from an annual report from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative in California. They have been “documenting inclusion and diversity in the top 100 films [from each year], since 2007. In their 2019 report they have examined (and focused on) gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ and people with disabilities on camera and behind the camera (i.e. writers, directors, producers, etc). It should be noted that while there are categories for gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ, disability, age categories are not always included in all of their analysis. However, while the statistics on age are less than for the above-mentioned categories, some statistics can be found within the main statistics on gender.

On camera: For their 2019 report (published in 2020) “a total of 4,451 characters were coded across the top 100 movies of 2019 in the US.” Statistics are as follows and are for 2019 unless otherwise indicated:

  • Character age by gender in top-grossing films from 2019: “Males: children (0-12yrs)=55.6%; teens (13-20=50.8%; young adult (21-39=61.2%; adults (40 yrs and older=74.6%. Females: children (0-12 yrs)=44.4%; teens (13-20 yrs=49.2%; young adults (21-39 yrs= 38.8%; adults 40 yrs and older=25.4%.”
  • Gender of characters 40 years of age and older in 2007, 2013 and 2019: 2007: Males=77.9% and females 22.1%; 2013: Males=78.4% and females 21.6%; 2019: Males: 74.6% and females 25.4%.”
  • Gender and age in speaking roles: ”A full 66% of speaking or named characters were male and 34% were female. This calculates into a gender ratio of 1.9 males to every 1 female. The percentage of female-identified speaking characters in 2019 as not different for 2018 (33.1%) or 2007 (29.9%) [But only] 25.4% of women 40 years of age or older had speaking roles.”
  • Gender and age in action films and animation: “Only 28% of all speaking characters in actions films were girls and women, which was not meaningfully different from 2018 (29%) but was notably higher than 2007 (20%). A similar pattern emerged for female characters in animation (2019=33.3%, 2007=20.9%).”
  • Age breakdown summary for females:Women only filled 38.8% of speaking roles among 21-39 year olds. The findings were even more dire for women 40 years of age or older, as they only held a quarter of those roles cast within this age range. The percentage of women 40 years of age or older in 2019 (25.4%) does not practically differ from 2018 (25%) or 2007 (22.1%).
  • Age breakdown for females (details): “17% of females were under 20, 22% were in their 20s, 31% were in their 30s, 16% were in their 40s, 8% were in their 50s, and 6% were in their 60s or older.”
  • Age breakdown for males (details):10% of males were under 20, 11% were in their 20s, 32% were in their 30s, 26% were in their 40s, 12% were in their 50s, and 9% were in their 60s or older.”
  • Leading roles: “The percentage of girls/women as leads and co leads was at an all-time high in 2019 (43% of films). Although this point statistic does not differ from 2018 (39% of films), it is fully 23 percentage points higher than 2007 (20% of films).” However, only 3% of films from 2019 featured female leads/co-leads who were 45 years of age or older at the time of theatrical release (and only 1% of these roles were held by a woman of colour). “The percentage of films with women 45 years of age or older in leading or co-leading roles decreased from 2018 (11%) to 2019 (3%).” In 2007 the percentage women 45 years or older had 1% of leading or co leading roles.
  • Age discrepancies in male and female actors: “Major female characters are younger than major male characters. 21% of major female characters were under 20, 22% were in their 20s, 27% were in their 30s, 14% were in their 40s, 8% were in their 50s, and 9% were in their 60s. In both samples, female characters experience a precipitous drop from their 30s to their 40s, and few women age into their 60s.”

Behind the camera (by gender/no data for age): A total of 1518 individuals worked above the line as directors, writers and producers across the 100 top-grossing films of 2019. Only 22.3% of all these top leadership positions were filled with women.”

  • Directors: “112 directors were attached to the 100 top-grossing movies of 2019. 89.3% (n=100) were male, while only 12/112 of these directors were women (10.7%), which was significantly higher than 2018 (4.5%) and 2007 (2.7%). 2019 was the highest number and percentage of women directors across the 13-year sample. Ten of the 12 women directors in 2019 did not appear previously in our sample of top-grossing helmers.”
  • “Across 1,300 movies in 2019, only 70 directing jobs were filled by women. Some women worked more than once, bringing the total number of individual women directors to 57. In comparison, 696 unique male directors worked across the 13-year time frame. This computed to a gender ratio of 12.2 men hired to every 1 woman.”
  • Screenwriters: “A total of 294 individuals penned the 100 top-grossing films of 2019. A full 80.6% (n=237) of screenwriters were men and only 19.4% (n=57) were women. The percentage of women screenwriters in 2019 was significantly higher (5 percentage points) than in 2018 (14.4%) or 2007 (11.2%).”
  • Producers: Almost a quarter of all producers (24.3% [n=270]) were women across the 100 top movies of 2019. No differences were observed over time (2018=21.1%, 2007=20.5%).