The European Audiovisual Observatory has published a new report on female professionals active in the European film industry, which states that only 26% of directors of European feature films are women. The gender gap was more pronounced among cinematographers and composers, where women only represented 11% and 10% of the workforce, respectively. In turn, the female share was higher among producers (35%) and screenwriters (29%).

This report – Female Professionals in European Film Production 2023 edition – provides an overview of the gender disparity among film professionals working in the European film industry.

The report considers the origin of film works, rather than the nationality of directors. A film was of European origin when produced and majority-financed by a European country. For this analysis, the 46 member states of the Council of Europe are considered European countries.

The report’s scope includes seven professional categories: directors, screenwriters, producers, cinematographers, composers, editors and lead roles.

It found that women accounted for 26% of all directors of European feature films active between 2018 and 2022. On average, women helmed fewer films than men and they were less likely to be the sole directors of feature films than their male counterparts. For these reasons, the average share of female directors per film was 23%, a figure which is lower than the share of women among all active directors in the workforce in the same time period.

In the same period, female directors in the sample were involved, whether alone or in partnership with other colleagues, in the direction of 26% of European feature films. However, the share of films directed by female-driven* teams was only 21% – because when women co-directed a film, it was in most cases in collaboration with a male colleague. 15

The share of women among directors varied across film genres. The female share was higher among directors of documentaries (31% between 2018 and 2022) than for live-action fiction (21%) and animation films (20%).

Comparatively, the level of activity for female directors was slightly lower than for their male counterparts. The majority (74%) of filmmakers in the sample, all genders considered, only directed a single film between 2013 and 2022. However, female directors were comparatively less prolific than males: only 22% of women in the sample directed more than one film between 2013 and 2022, compared to 28% for men.

When looking at the proportion of women and men among the total number of directors of each feature film, the average share of female directors per film was 23% between 2018 and 2022. This share has only marginally increased over the last decade.

Other findings include:

  • Women represented 29% of screenwriters of European feature films produced between 2018 and 2022.
  • Among behind-the-camera roles, the highest female presence was registered among producers (35%) and screenwriters (29%).
  • The gender gap was most visible concerning cinematographers and composers, as women represent 11% and 10% of active professionals respectively.
  • The share of female professionals is progressing slowly, with variations across Europe.
  • On average, female professionals in film crews worked on slightly fewer films than their male counterparts, except for film editors.
  • Women in key crew positions were more likely than their male colleagues to work in teams, as well as in gender-mixed settings.
  • Documentary was the film genre with the highest share of female professionals, taking into consideration all crew roles.
  • Data suggest a positive correlation between the presence of at least one female co-director and an increase in the share of women working in film crews.

You can download the full report here.

* In this context, “female-driven” refers to feature films by a majority of female directors: by one individual female director; by several female directors; or by teams of directors of both genders with a female presence of at least 60%.

Michael Burns

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