study says male critics give lower ratings to films by women

‘Film Critics and Gender, and Why it Matters’ is damning critique of the male-dominated industry.

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Jul 17 2018, 4:40pm

Image courtesy of A24. 

The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film released a study this week saying that female critics tend to give higher ratings to films with women in leading roles than men do. This isn’t particularly surprising, but it’s vaguely depressing when you think that there are more than double the number of male critics than female critics. On average, women gave a rating of 74% to films with women in leading roles, while men gave only 62%.

The study, which comes out of a program at San Diego University, and has been running since 2007, also found that women are more likely to review films directed by and starring women, and mention the names of female directors.

Dr. Martha Lauzen, who directs the project, said in a statement, “These gender imbalances matter because they impact the visibility of films with female protagonists and/or women directors, as well as the nature of reviews.” Lauzen’s data came from 4,111 reviews written by 241 people for print, broadcast, and online in the spring of this year, who have their work included on the eternally debated RottenTomatoes.com. It also noted that of the 32% of reviewers who are women, 83% are white (the percentage for men is similar).

In a column written earlier this year for Variety, Dr. Lauzen noted “The percentages of women working in film have yet to budge in any meaningful way. In fact, the ratio of individuals working in key behind-the-scenes roles in 2017 was almost exactly the same as it was two decades ago.”