It’s a Man’s (Celluloid) World: Portrayals of Female Characters in the Top Grossing Films of 2019
The percentage of top grossing films featuring female protagonists rose from 31% in 2018 to 40% in 2019, reaching a recent historic high. 43% of films featured male protagonists, and 17% had ensembles or a combination of male and female protagonists. The percentages of females appearing as major characters and speaking characters remained relatively stable. In 2019, females accounted for 37% of major characters, up just 1 percentage point from 36% in 2018, and 34% of all speaking characters, down 1 percentage point from 35% in 2018. Regarding race and ethnicity, the percentage of Black females in speaking roles declined slightly from 21% in 2018 to 20% in 2019. The percentage of Latinas increased slightly from 4% in 2018 to 5% in 2019. 7% of all female characters were Asian, down 3 percentage points from 10% in 2018, but even with the percentage achieved in 2017. Female characters were more likely than male characters to have a known marital status (46% vs. 34%). A larger proportion of male than female characters had an identifiable occupation (73% vs. 61%), and male characters were more likely than female characters to be seen in their work setting, actually working (59% vs. 43%). Females comprised 26% of leaders and were most likely to be leaders in professional jobs and social groups. Films with at least one woman director and/or writer were more likely than films with no women in these roles to feature higher percentages of females as protagonists, in major roles, and as speaking characters.