International Parity for Women Directors: The Legal Center‏

International Parity for Women Directors: The Legal Center represents the world’s first effort to unify and galvanize women around the world in an attempt to create parity for women directors of all forms of media content including feature films, purchase television, online commercials and news.

Each nation around the world has its own set of laws protecting the civil rights of its citizens. Most nations have laws designed to assure employment equality for all people, regardless of their sex. Employment statistics, however, continue to emerge from studies around the world that indicate a profound under-representation of women directors in international film and television industries.

In the United States, for example, while women in nearly every other industry have made strides toward equality in the past decades, the entertainment industry remains a bastion of sexual discrimination. The ratios are staggering: according to recent Directors Guild of America statistics, 95% of feature films are directed by men, and just 5% by women. Episodic TV is nearly as bad, with the male-to-female ratio of working directors at 86% to 14%.

If women are not directing film and television content, it means nearly half of the voices of the population are silenced and half the visions are suppressed. Ending discrimination against women directors is vital to establishing a societies of equality and diversity of perspective. It is not just the validity of the female point of view and basic fairness that gives this issue such immediacy, but if we as a civilization are to encourage freedom and equality in all geopolitical affairs, we must be sure that each nation is abiding by existing laws protecting employment equality in our most visible and influential industry: media.

“International Parity for Women Directors: The Legal Center” is intended as a cyber meeting place for women and men around the world who are concerned about equality of gender perspective in all forms of media. This site will collect statistics, reproduce international civil rights laws, assess and compare affirmative actions policies worldwide, and provide resources to encourage the advancement of parity for women directors in all nations of the world.

We believe that a unified global effort to create gender equality in media will make change possible, broaden our visibility and increase our strength and resolve.

  • Women Helmers in Media’s Brave New World February 6, 2014 “TV in ten years is going to be 100% streamed.  On demand.  Internet Protocol. Based on computers and based on software.  The next generation won’t even know what live TV is— they live in an on-demand world.” ( The New Yorker – 2-3-14)   By Maria Giese It’s not just the weather that’s changing these days—global media is on the verge of a seismic shift and, as we all know, change means opportunity.  This new media revolution could be the moment of opportunity women directors have been waiting for to seize a piece of the employment pie. Les Moonves, CEO of CBS was recently quoted as saying:  “For 25 years, I’ve been hearing that Network television is dead.  We’re thriving like never before” (The New Yorker).  But truth be told, he’s a dying, old dog— and a misogynist one at that.  (Save your tears: Moonves will still get a hell of a lot richer before the game is over. He earned over sixty million dollars last year). All of these moribund Network heads— male and female alike— of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW, and so on, whose paternalist sensibilities have been keeping women directors of all ethnicities buried for decades, are about to get swallowed whole by a new generation of media giants whose universal perspectives may just suggest a sea change in thinking about gender equity. Will the old Hollywood TV networks, that have been in rampant violation of U.S. gender employment equity laws for decades, drag their biases against women helmers out the exit door with them when they go?  The emerging mavericks– Reed Hastings, Jeff Bezos, and Susan Wojcicki– of America’s growing on-demand streaming media, like Netflix, Amazon, and Google, may be able unveil a promising new horizon for women in America’s most influential global export– media. Netflix head, Reed Hastings, is practically ...
  • The DGA/Studio Agreement – Feminist Analysis January 8, 2014 By Maria Giese “Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay on Wednesday announced that the DGA membership has voted by an overwhelming margin to ratify the new collective bargaining agreements between the DGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers” (The Hollywood Reporter 1-8-14). DGA President, Paris Barclay says that “This negotiation was about laying the groundwork to protect our future in a meaningful way,” but what new groundwork has been laid for the future of women directors?  None.  None at all.  Even though many women members of the DGA have been working tirelessly for two years to get the Guild to pay attention to the “criminal” under-representation of women directors in this round, this negotiation result shows definitively that the DGA could not care less about gender equity in our industry. The primary failing of the new Agreement is that women remain buried within the category of general diversity.  Therefore, even if in the coming years the numbers of female director employment remain the same or even continue to decline, while those of male ethnic minority directors continue to make reasonable forward strides, the studios will still be able to have demonstrated successful adherence to the new Agreement.  Under this contract, the studios could do remarkably well by advancing only male ethnic minorities. There is no legal obligation for them to advance women in any way; the only legal requirement is that diversity hiring improves.  In order for the agreement to benefit women, it must specifically refer to women of all ethnicities as a separate class, in their own right. The new Agreement states that “Each of the major television studios is now required to establish a formal Television Director Development Program no later than July 1, 2014 that is designed to expand opportunities for women and minority Directors in episodic ...
  • 11 Ways the DGA Sabotages Women Directors November 18, 2013 By Maria Giese In 1985 the DGA was disqualified from leading the class action lawsuit it had filed against three major Hollywood studios on behalf of women DGA members.  Even though judge Pamela Rymer ruled that the women had a valid case, order she had to disqualify the DGA as leading the class because, illness in her view, treatment the Guild discriminates against women as much as the studios do. After being disqualified from the suit, the DGA made agreements with the studios to hire more women (FLTTA Article 19 & BA Article 15), but it never acted on most aspects of the agreements, resulting in decades of stasis and decline in the number of employed women directors. Even though industry compliance of U.S. equal rights laws should be overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice and the EEOC, in the 1980’s the Directors Guild of America became the primary organization charged with overseeing lawful studio compliance of DGA-studio agreements to hire more women.  Extraordinarily, in two decades the numbers have not moved, except down a little.  As employment numbers among women directors continue to worsen, evidence mounts that the DGA is not capable of commanding this duty that has such broad political and cultural impact– globally. In 2004, DGA president, Michael Apted, initiated the DGA Diversity Task Force to oversee studio compliance of Guild-studio agreements to hire more women directors.  The two co-chairs and the entire membership of the “Force” were comprised of working directors who were actively seeking open-assignment directing jobs at the very studios they were supposed to be policing.  This “conflict of interest” resulted in unprecedented career success for some committee members, but from 2004 to present, the number of employed women directors actually declined. The DGA has still failed to provide the women of the DGA with ...
  • OPEN LETTER TO MICHAEL APTED & STEVEN SODERBERGH November 1, 2013 WOMEN DIRECTORS IN HOLLYWOOD November 10, 2013 Dear Michael Apted & Steven Soderbergh, American women directors are grateful that you have accepted your appointments to co-chair the current DGA Feature Film and Television Negotiations Committee and DGA Creative Rights Committee, respectively. You are each internationally beloved and admired filmmakers who have made inspiring feminist films including “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Erin Brockovich” about marginalized women who have been courageous in speaking out for justice. The DGA is the primary organization in the United States charged with oversight of studio compliance of entertainment industry agreements to hire more women in accordance with Title VII and U.S. equal employment laws. As such, we urge you to address the ongoing unlawful under-representation of women DGA directors in the collective bargaining negotiations currently taking place until December 2013. As champions of women and women’s issues, both in your films and throughout your careers— if not you, then who— will help remedy our nation’s unjust employment ratios among American women directors. We count on you to wield your influence where it is needed now more than ever, in support of employment equity in the industry that creates America’s most culturally influential global export–media. Yours sincerely, Women Directors in Hollywood www.womendirectorsinhollywood.com  
  • Women Directors: March in Burkas October 12, 2013 Edited by Maria Giese 2013 DGA-WSC Women of Action Summit: Roundtables Recommendation #24: American women directors should protest industry discrimination by trying everything, decease even “marching in burkas”! Read more about the Summit    
  • A Brief History of Women DGA Directors: The Past 30 Years September 13, 2013 Edited by Maria Giese UCLA’s “Center for the Study of Women” published “Liberating Hollywood: Thirty Years of Women Directors” by Maya Montañez Smukler, Ph.d. which chronicles the past 30-year history of women directors in the DGA and their courageous struggle to convince the Guild to help change their dismal employment numbers.  In 1983, the DGA launched a class-action lawsuit on their behalf against three major studios.  This action was essential to moving the percentage of women director employment from less than 1% in 1985 to 16% in 1995. The following excerpted article involved dozens of hours of interviews with the very women directors who spearheaded the extraordinary change in gender employment ratios that came in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.  Unfortunately, momentum slowed and after 1995 the ratio of female director employment went into stasis.  Today, less than 5% of feature films and only 12% of television episodes are directed by women. “LIBERATING HOLLYWOOD: THIRTY YEARS OF WOMEN DIRECTORS” by Maya Montañez Smukler, Ph.d. “The 1970s was a crucial decade for women directors working in Hollywood as it marked a period of significant increase in their employment statistics compared to previous decades. Between the early 1930s up until the late 1960s, there was never more than one woman making commercially oriented movies in Hollywood or within the independent film communities adjacent to the studio system. By the late 1960s and increasingly—ever so gradually—throughout the 1970s the number of women directing feature films grew.  Between 1966 and 1980 there were an estimated fifteen women who had made feature films targeting commercial audiences, either within the studio system or as independent filmmakers. Throughout the 1970s the feminist movement impacted the entertainment industry in various ways influencing Hollywood’s own political consciousness-raising. On-screen the women’s movement and its objective of female autonomy were represented by characterizations and narrative themes in several kinds ...
  • DGA Women: Memory Lane is Heartbreaking September 11, 2013 Edited by Maria Giese The following excerpted article, written by Nancy Mills for “The LA Times”  in 1986, puts into perspective the struggle of women directors in Hollywood during the past 30 years. Though Michael Franklin (then Executive Director of the DGA), lamented in 1986 that little had changed in the year following the 1983-1985 DGA discrimination lawsuit against three major studios, the next 10 years would see a steep rise in the employment of women directors from less than 1% to 16% in 1995. Unfortunately, in the nearly 20 years from 1995 to 2013, those numbers have sadly fallen– less than 5% women directing feature films and just 12% to 14% women directing episodic TV. We women at “Women Directors: Navigating the Boys’ Club” hope that this glance back down memory lane will encourage a revival of new action toward getting women directors back on the path toward equality. “PLIGHT OF WOMEN DIRECTORS IMPROVED–BUT NOT MUCH:  WOMEN DIRECTORS STILL STRUGGLING By Nancy Mills – The Los Angeles Times – November 17, 1986 “In 1980, statistics gathered by six women members of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) confirmed (…) that in the past 30 years, women had directed fewer than 1% of all major feature films and prime-time television. Specifically: Of 7,332 pictures, women directed 14; of 65,500 hours of television programming, women directed 115 hours. Along with those bleak figures, the DGA Women’s Committee also presented to entertainment industry power brokers a detailed affirmative-action proposal for getting more women “tracked into the main talent pool of working directors.” The years since have seen lawsuits, networking, seminars, studies and conferences dedicated to increasing access for women into the prestigious guild… …There are definitely more women directors at work today than ever before–on major projects in film and television. Women directors are an emerging minority. At the same ...
  • Why America Needs Women Directors September 5, 2013 Why America Needs Women Directors
  • American Women Directors & the DGA July 23, 2013 By Maria Giese, cialis MFA In 1979, help there were very few women director members of the Guild— and they weren’t getting much work.  So six distinguished women director members (including recipients of a Peabody, an Oscar, and an Emmy nomination), who could not get hired, decided to ask the Guild how many women were actually getting directing jobs. Luckily, that year the Guild had computerized their data system, and when the six women asked for and received those files, they pored over them for the next twelve months.  What they learned was disturbing: the employment numbers for women directors was just ½ of 1%. They presented the results of their research to Michael Franklin, then National Executive Secretary of the DGA.  He agreed that something had to be done. The six directors then formed the Director’s Guild “Women’s Committee.”  The following year, they invited women of all guild categories to join.  During the next two years, from 1981 to 1983, Michael Franklin tried to get the studios and TV production companies to improve the hiring of women DGA members.  The Guild, in conjunction with the Women’s Committee, set up meeting after meeting to encourage production companies to interview women members; they circulated directors’ reels, discussed possible ‘set-asides’ (a specific number of directing slots for women)– all to no avail. The studios and production companies were intransigent.  After one final attempt, when none of the invited executives showed up for a scheduled meeting, which included coffee and an inordinate number of Danish pastries, Franklin, fed up, made his historic decision. It was time to sue. That event was dubbed “The Danish Debacle.” In 1983, Ronald Reagan was president.  The Guild went to work.  It hired a law firm and expanded the suit to include ethnic minorities.  The named defendants were Columbia Pictures, Paramount, and Warner ...
  • O Canadian Sisters! You, Too? June 27, 2013 By Rena Sternfeld A few days ago, view the Canadian organization “Women in View”* published its first annual report on the appalling state of under-employment of women in Canadian TV, particularly in content-determining positions: directors, writers, and cinematographers.  What astounds the American reader is how closely the problems of gender disparity in the Canadian entertainment industry parallel those of women in Hollywood.  Ironically, the numerous differences between U.S. and Canadian equal employment laws and policies, in conjunction with stronger policies of employment gender equity in Canada, indicate that the reasons behind such profound gender disparity in both industries must lie in something beyond law— but what could it be? An abundance of contemporary research demonstrates that women employed in media industries are disproportionately represented in the stereotypically female occupations—what are known as “caretaking” roles like wardrobe, hair and make-up, rather than in “taking charge” roles such as producers, writers, cinematographers and directors. As the report states: “There is increasing evidence that even when women succeed in establishing themselves in positions of creative authority, they are rarely seen in the top-most echelons; and that, at almost every level, they earn less than their male counterparts.” The research examined 21 Canadian TV shows reflecting a specific slice of Canadian TV, not including documentaries or animation. Here are the findings: In 11 out of those 21 shows NO WOMAN DIRECTORS were employed in a combined 133 episodes. NO minority women were employed as director. There were 272 episodes examined, employing  87 directors: 73 men and 14 women, a ratio of five men to every woman. About 16%. Women directors were employed on just 34 of those 272 episodes (87.5/12.5 percent) The number of directors employed on more than 1 episode in the 2010-2011 season—four (4!).  By contrast, 73 men were employed on more than two episodes in the same year. NONE of ...
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