'Thumbs down': female critics vastly outnumbered by male counterparts – new study
Film criticism remains ‘a heavily male pursuit’, according to a study of Rotten Tomatoes by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film
- Men outnumber women by 73% to 27%
- Study author says gender bias impacts exposure female protagonists receive
Women’s struggles to secure adequate representation in the film industry have been well documented in recent years. Now, a new study suggests they are outnumbered when it comes to writing and broadcasting about films, too.
The San Diego-based Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film (CSWTF) has published the report Thumbs Down 2016: Top Film Critics and Gender, which analyses the gender ratio of writers appearing on the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. It has concluded that men outnumber women by 73% to 27%, a factor of more than two to one.
Martha Lauzen, the report’s author and executive director of CSWTF, said: “The discussion of film … remains a heavily male pursuit, reflecting an industry with the same bias. Women’s underrepresentation among the top critics is not only an employment issue for women who write about film, it also impacts the amount of exposure films with female protagonists receive.”
Lauzen’s analysis revealed that the gender imbalance also affects the nature of coverage films receive. Crucially, she reports, while male and female reviewers on average award similar ratings to films featuring female protagonists, a male critic is considerably less likely to review it in the first place. According to the study, 34% of reviews written by women are of films that feature at least one female protagonist, compared with only 24% of reviews written by men.
The study’s research took as its focus the work of Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics”, which the site says “must be published at a print publication in the top 10% of circulation, employed as a film critic at a national broadcast outlet for no less than five years, or employed as a film critic for an editorial-based website with over 1.5 million monthly unique visitors for a minimum of three years”.