Research shows women were underrepresented in Hollywood in 2023


Despite the blockbuster success of Barbie, a new report from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative shows that 2023’s movies featured the lowest percentage of female leads and co-stars in a decade.

Just 30% of the top 100 films of 2023 featured a female star or co-lead, according to the study as quoted by Variety, as major movie productions focused on male protagonists.

The researchers found that 2007 had the lowest percentage of female protagonists, at 20%, and 2022 had a record high of 44%.

The initiative’s founder, Stacy L. Smith, called 2023’s 30% mark a “catastrophic step back for girls and women in film.”

Her statement added, “These numbers are more than just a metric of how often girls and women are in protagonist roles. They represent the career opportunities offered to women in the industry.”

Smith continued, “Even by looking at the films that were moved to 2024 because of the strike, we cannot explain the collapse of women leads/co-leads in 2023,” categorizing it as “an industry failure.”

Further, only three movies in 2023 — not counting ensemble movies like 80 for Brady — featured actresses who were 45 or older. In that same year, 32 movies starred men in that age group. 

On a related note, a January report from the initiative showed the lack of gender diversity also applied to work behind the camera in 2023: Of the 116 directors evaluated in 2023, just 12.1% were women.

Further, looking back 17 years and taking into account the work of 1,769 directors, just 6% were women. The researchers noted that back in 2007, just 2.7% of directors were women — but by 2022, that needle only moved to 9%.


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