“Women directors aren’t working on an even playing field and aren’t getting a fair opportunity to succeed. Gender discrimination is illegal. And really Hollywood doesn’t get this free pass when it comes to civil rights and gender discrimination.” — Melissa Goodman of the ACLU of Southern California
With extraordinarily talented women like Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae and Mara Brock Akil finding continued success on both the big and small screens over the past few years, you’d think Hollywood was moving in the right direction towards accepting female directors as equals among their male counterparts, but the ACLU says it aint so.
In fact, the ACLU recently submitted a request to have federal and local level civil rights agencies look into why women directors don’t seem to be afforded the same opportunities to excel as their male peers, specifically with regard to the lack of hiring of more-than-qualified female directors. Both the ACLU of Southern Californian and the national ACLU Women’s Rights Project say they’ve discovered statistical evidence of “dramatic disparities” in the hiring of women as film and television directors.
“Many of these women directors have been told that they ‘can’t be trusted with money’ by studio executives,” says Ariela Migdal, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU. “This isn’t just about stereotypes and implicit bias, it’s about blatant discrimination. We heard over and over again from female directors that they’ve been told, ‘This show is too hard for women’ or ‘You can’t do this movie, it’s action’—this to women who have directed plenty of action.”
Filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom also pointed out the connection between the lack of opportunities for female producers to become successful in Hollywood and the way women are portrayed in the media, reports the Huffington Post. She believes the current portrayals of women in the media have led to fewer positions of power for qualified females working behind the scenes in the entertainment industry.
ACLU Women’s Rights Project senior attorney Ariela Migdal says the end goal in taking Hollywood to task for discriminating against female directors is a simple one:
“Our hope is that the involvement of the civil rights agencies and calling it what it is .a civil rights issue — will lead to concrete solutions.
Well, for one certainly agree that female directors are doing phenomenal things in and outside of Hollywood and deserve to be afforded additional opportunities for grown in light of their successful track records.