13 Myths Hollywood Uses to Hide Discrimination Against Women Directors


By Maria Giese

1.  The number of women directors is so small because women are not really interested in directing and few women are exceptional enough to do a man’s job.

Right, so 1,160 women DGA director members pay their union dues just for the hell of it!  Believe us—we ARE interested!


2.  The ratio of women directors is improving—it’s just going to take time.

The ratio hasn’t changed significantly since the advent of cinema 100 years ago.  How much more time shall we plan on waiting?


3.  There are fewer women directors because more men attend film school.

Women make up 50% of the classes in almost every film school in the U.S.


4.  Men are better directors because they have more experience.

If experience were everything, no young men would ever enter the profession. Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” was his debut feature.  This argument diminishes the notion that some people are simply gifted in certain areas.


5.  It’s okay for women to direct small, independent femme-themed films, but men can handle all genres. And women certainly can’t be trusted with big budget features or episodic television, even if they are female driven stories.

Women can too!  It’s risible and hypocritical that almost all female driven stories are directed by men.


6.  It’s okay to say ”We don’t hire women on this show” (we hear it all the time), but it’s not okay to say “We don’t hire African Americans/Asians/Latinos, etc… on this show.”

Just think about that for a minute…


7.  Women studio executives are helping hire more women film and television directors.

There are more women studio executives today than ever, but fewer women directors.  Sony’s Amy Pascal could only conjure up the name of ONE women director when asked recently, and even remembering Kathryn Bigelow seemed to require some strained mental effort.


8.  The Director’s Guild of America really wants to help increase employment opportunities for its women members.

That’s why the ratio of male to female directors has remained in stasis for over two decades. The DGA is the organization charged with oversight of studio compliance of studio agreements to hire more women in accordance with U.S. civil rights laws.


9.  In America, we protect freedom of speech—women can speak out about discrimination in the film & TV industry without FEAR of reprisals.

The #1 reason women do not speak out about discrimination in Hollywood is that they are afraid of getting BLACKLISTED.


10.  America has a higher ratio of women directors than other nations around the world.

Almost all other countries in the world honor women directors more than the United States of America.


11.  Women directors are not successful because they don’t know how to get organized.

That sometimes seems true.  But women did manage to get the right to vote in America after several hundred years of fighting for suffrage.


12.  Hollywood has lots of wonderful diversity programs that help women break in to directing.

Not true. And over 20 years of failed Guild diversity programs have resulted in NO CHANGE in the ratios of women directors.


13.  Women directors succeed or fail based on merit and their films will get good reviews and big budgets for marketing & distribution if their films are good.

Not true.  Recent studies prove that since 80% of film critics are males, reviews of women’s films are disproportionately harsh.  Women’s features suffer from disproportionately low P&A budgets, and on average, open on many fewer screens.


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36 Responses to 13 Myths Hollywood Uses to Hide Discrimination Against Women Directors

  1. Marian says:

    This is fabulous, Maria! Thanks a million!

  2. Marian says:

    PS It is also heartbreaking.

  3. Oh, man! I can see ALL of the points in this one!

    I LOVE the arrogance (sarcasm) when an outright sexist, womanizing male screams that sexism, domestic abuse and date rape are all imaginary evils, propagated by delusional, insane women! I recently read some research that *convicted* AND *jailed* rapists, admit exactly what they did and how, but REFUSE to call it “rape”! I can’t digest that savage ARROGANCE!!!

    The one thing that gets me is when people who DO NOT exist in a certain sub-culture or demographic, take the arrogant position of “first person” of people who are IN that sub-culture, and then presume to draw conclusions, with some form of AUTHORITY, as if they had genuine experiences LIVING as one of those people!

    Aristocratic whites scream that crime and police brutality are all figments of inner city minorities’ imagination. Lots of men say that the notion of the statistic of raped women being near 1/3 or 1/4 of all women, and being under reported, are all a figment of feminists’ imagination. And in MY “nerd” sub-culture, I’ll have some savage guy trying to start a fight with me, and people tell me that I am blowing it out of proportion when I explode BACK at the guy, or that (keeping in mind when they DIDN’T witness it) I was making my account of the incident worse than it really was! Also, there is a horrible lean today, toward guys that are womanizing losers, or even girlfriend/wife BEATERS, or RAPISTS, that tend to be masters at flying under a woman’s radar, which creates the situation of nice “nerds” like me being misinterpreted/misunderstood almost 100% of the time AND why so many women end up RAPED on dates or STAY with a man who beats them!!

    My favorite one was this guy, who I knew, who had to be one of the most oblivious and apathetic people that I have ever known, or even known OF, who stated (in regards to people from violent or screwed up households and/or violent or screwed up neighborhoods) that NO ONE in the USA has ANY reason to not have a clear passion, direction, field to pursue, and/or education and/or lots of experience in life because of today’s (get ready for this!) “media blitz”! I guess he feels that the systematic inner city gang problem is all going to go away if we play the Discovery Channel, just a little bit more, which will make gangbangers drop all of their automatic weapons, and instantly convert to a bunch of bookworm nerds, who will have their Doctorate in Nuclear Engineering, Quantum Physics, or Time Travel!!!!

    • Editor says:

      This is a marvelous tirade! You have a wonderful flair for the written language. Thanks for reading our blog and responding with such exuberance! Please keep in touch. Best, Maria

  4. Gabriela says:

    I think this list is really great and very important. I just wish there were links to the references, so that we could see where all these sad numbers come are from…

  5. Editor says:

    Thank you, Gabriela, All of the statistics and supporting information can be found in the articles published right here on our web forum. If you scroll down the above menu “All Articles,” you will be able to find relevant articles for each numbered “myth.” If you have any specific questions, I would be happy to provide the information. I do find that when I write more detailed articles, they are often passed over. Web readers are very thrifty with their reading time, it often seems! I am so grateful for your reading our blog and commenting. Please stay in touch. Best, Maria

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  7. ijustgottasay says:

    The DGA is comprised of directors AND assistant directors, unit production managers, stage managers, associate directors, production associates, and location managers (in NY and Chicago). Not everyone in your cited 3500 DGA female members is a member of the guild as a director nor does everyone want to be a director. Please be careful using “3,500 women DGA members pay their union dues just for the hell of it” in what is an otherwise thoughtful post. Naysayers and haters will jump on that to invalidate your cogent thoughts.

    • Maria Giese says:

      Thanks. The number is 1,161 women DGA director members– 3,500 women DGA members in all. I’ll change that and I appreciate your commenting and pointing it out. You’re completely right, of course. Best, Maria

    • Marlyn says:

      Are there more examples of discrimination against women in the entertainment world, including in front of the camera jobs? It seems older men just keep on going, but more wrinkles for women generally mean less work. Most TV shows feature younger women. Men can have pock-marked faces, beefy bodies or skinny-as-a-rail unbuffed bodies.
      Looking at TV news people, women are generally over-the-top gorgeous. Guys, not so much. So why do women have to be bathing-beauty types to be believable?
      Of course there are exceptions, but too often women are hired more for their appearance than their skill. I do think men’s voices are sometimes better suited for newscasts; people with hearing deficiencies can’t hear some women’s voices as well, especially if, as many do, they talk too fast. There are, however, some outstanding women doing news.

      My granddaughter is doing a paper on this topic (women in entertainment and equal opportunity)
      Other References? Thanks

      • Maria Giese says:

        Hi Marlyn,

        Thanks for your comment. The problem is widespread and deeply entrenched. It is so wonderful that your granddaughter is writing about this issue. The amazing Geena Davis is the person who is dealing with discrimination against women on the other side of the camera– and it is an extremely important issue. Dr. Stacy Smith does her statistics, and together they are making a real difference. Take a look here: Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

        Here at Women Directors in Hollywood, we believe that the center of the problem lies in discrimination against women directors in Hollywood and around the world, because if there are more women behind the camera, calling the shots, there will be more and better depictions women and girls on the screens globally.

        Furthermore, gender equity in the Hollywood film industry is a legal matter. According to U.S. law, our industry must hire more women directors or they will remain in violation of Title VII.
        The purpose of our site is to make Hollywood accountable to U.S. equal rights laws and to stop the industry from acting as if it exists in a jurisdiction outside the law.

        American media is our nation’s most culturally and politically influential export. It is critical that it come from the perspectives of men and women equally.

        Good luck to you and your granddaughter, and please keep in touch.

        Best, Maria Giese

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