Side Note

Big surprise: Dudes still dominate film reviewing

A new study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film has found that the continued gender imbalance in film reviewing is having serious effects on movies starring women. The study looks at reviewers whose work is included on, and, unsurprisingly, there are two male film reviewers for every female reviewer across print, online, and broadcast outlets. But more than representation, the study also found that male reviewers don’t pay as much attention to — or heap as much praise on — movies with female protagonists. The study’s author, San Diego State University researcher Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, found that 51 percent of movies reviewed by women featured at least one female protagonist, while this was true for only 37 percent of reviews written by men. Female reviewers gave movies with at least one female protagonist an average rating of 74 percent, while the average for male reviewers was 62 percent. Men were also much more likely to review films with only a male protagonist.

Female reviewers also pay more attention to films directed by women, which make up 25 percent of the reviews female reviewers wrote and only 10 percent of those written by men. They’re also more likely to mention female directors by name in their reviews: The study goes on to say that male reviewers only make exclusively positive comments about female directors 38 percent of the time, while that number is 52 percent for female reviewers.

Though Lauzen acknowledges that outlet assignments and author preference may play a part in this difference, the study sheds light on how, even when female-driven films are made, gender imbalance in reviewing can affect the exposure and potential praise they may get. And considering how much reviews play a part in the funding of future projects, review outlets have just as much a responsibility to diversify as the films and studios they critique. If you’re looking for more reviews by women about female-driven and -led films, it may serve you better to seek out these women reviewers themselves and make a point of following their work.