In a in a speech for Equality Now (an advocate for human rights for women and children), writer and director, Joss Whedon recalled a reporter asking why he keeps writing strong female characters. Whedon replied, “Because you’re still asking me that question.”
Even with the popularity of women-led stories like Scandal, The Hunger Games and the Divergent series (among others), female characters are still underrepresented in film and television. This year the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film published a paper which breaks down the percentage of women on the screen, and the title alone gives away their conclusion: It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World: Portrayals of Female Characters in the Top 100 Films of 2015.
To put these percentages in perspective, the United States Census Bureau lists women as comprising 50.8% of the population. Here are highlights of what the Center’s research found regarding female characters in the top 100 films of 2015:
- 22% of protagonists (the characters from whose perspective the story is told)
- 34% of major characters (those appearing in more than one scene or instrumental to story)
- 33% of all speaking characters