Gender Equality in Irish Film Industry vs. it in the United States -by Min Wang

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Images: ITV website

Ireland is a homeland where priests, farmers, poets, patriots all get along over the long history. The development of Irish film industry amazed people who are interested in Irish film making. The Irish film industry has grown hugely over the last decade in an international influential rise which separated itself from British film industry. While it’s a booming market and more problems are showing as it’s one of Irish few economic bright spots.

As James Hickey explained about Irish film bid trend, behind it is the new hope that considered film as an industrial activity beyond an art form and cultural activity. Notably there is also a huge under-representation of female.

Writing at thejounal.ie, director Rachel Lysaght noted there is a gender imbalance existing in the Irish film industry. She emphasized that due to the industrial regulation or governance control, the risk of unconscious bias led to a fact that there are fewer women are working as film and television directors and screenwriters today than there were two decades ago. She mentioned an Irish director, Pat Murphy, who remains the only Irish woman that have directed three feature films.

This issue has also been addressed by national film organization. Irish Film Broad which helpd tp finance many of film projects. issued a statement on gender inequality on Nov 12, 2015 that admitted the Irish Film board recognized the major underrepresentation of women, acknowledging that there are talented female film workers out there who are not fully represented either in regards of the funding for film is not enough.In order to solve the issue, series actions has been taking by IFB, as claimed at the statement that they adopted a detailed strategy on gender equality in the European film industry. Also they are soluting it with funders to invest more money in addressing gender issues.

Not only the employment inequality, the film itself is also underrepresenting Irish women. In a research on Irish Film and Media Studies Publications by Barton Ruth, he discussed the topic of Irish women in contemporary films by analyzing the sexual representations. Such attitudes regarding women’s sexuality confirmed never embodied principles and behaviors that respect the sexual rights of women. The role has been changing after the radical sexual freedom movement, also the feminism widely spread in the Europe while more sexual scenes in the movie that help free the women traditional private domain roles from Catholic ideology. But sensitive topics such like domestic violence are still not been showed in films correctly where Barton noted “Even when discussing issues such as domestic violence and sex, the characters are not merely represented as nothing more than helpless victims at the hands of patriarchal brutality and domination. Instead, these characters are feisty and strong”.

Yet film industry is never an utopia art world- issues are common in every country.  Similarly, a journalist of HuffingtonPost noted that in her headline as “The Film Industry’s Problem of Gender Inequality Is Worse Than You Think.”  She concluded histories of Oscar and Hollywood and the current movie industry in the United States. The shocking fact is an overwhelming majority of film studio head are white males, not to mention that a global study showed gender roles in popular films distributed between January 1, 2010, and May 1, 2013, found that females held only 13.9 percent of senior executive positions, while no females were depicted as partners in law firms.

Besides less positions than males. Female filmmakers are paid unequally. In USA, the gap between female salary and male salary is far from each other as 50%. The gender gap in Hollywood also indicated at casting.According to a study by Brent Lang, on the top 250 films, Women Comprise 7% of Directors. “Women comprised 13% of directors on the top 700 films, but just 7% on the top 250 films. They made up 13% of writers on the top 700 films, and 11% on the top 250 films. And 27% of producers on the top 700 films were female, while 23% on the top 250 films were female. And women accounted for 9% of cinematographers on the top 700 films, but 5% of cinematographers on the top 250 pictures. The number of female editors stayed consistent at 18% in both test samples.”  Obviously, the film industry is having gender bias at work.

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A study conducted by Dr. Stacy, Marc Choueiti, & Dr. Katherine Pieper about Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, LGBT, and Disability from 2007‐2015 found that Across 800 films and 886 directors, only 4.1% were women. Which translated into a gender ration that of 24 males to every 1 female. More significantly, only 1.4% of all composers were women from 2007 to 2015 (excluding 2011). This translates into a gender ratio of 72 male composers to every 1 female composer.  Not to mention the ethical group is extremely biased- only 4 out of 800 are featured Asian or African directors. As a journalist described “Hollywood is so, so male, white, and straight.”

The lack of female, LGBTQ community and minority problem are getting serious in Hollywood. Directing is not a field that should be dominated by male. The study also found that when there are women directors or writers, more women will be onscreen.

Another study conducted by Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media  examined films for the number pf female characters, the roles these women played, the sexualized levels and the gender of filmmakers among 11 countries which are industry leaders- Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The finding shows while females are half of the populations but only a third of characters from the sample were women.  Not only there were less women characters, the portrays of women are under-represented – low employment rate and judged by their appearance.

To eliminate the gender discrimination, the industry should open more directing jobs, invest more funding towards women filmmakers –to all the countries that are leading the industry.  Changing is not easy and it’s a long way to go, first of all, changing women’s roles in mass media, where the perceptions can be corrected is the key.

Work Cited

Smith, Stacy L., et al. “Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race & LGBT Status from 2007 to 2014.” Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, http://annenberg. usc. edu/pages/~/media/MDSCI/Inequality% 20in 20700 (2015).

Bielby D D, Bielby W T. Women and men in film: Gender inequality among writers in a culture industry[J]. Gender & Society, 1996, 10(3): 248-270.

Pettitt L. Screening Ireland: film and television representation[M]. Manchester University Press, 2000.

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