Skip to main content

Women directed a record number of Hollywood’s highest grossing movies in 2020

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984
(Image credit: IMDb)

According to a new study, women directed a record number of Hollywood movies last year. 

As reported by Variety, the study from the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University revealed that women represented 16% of directors working on the 100 highest-grossing movies in 2020. That may not be a huge number, but the figure is up from 12% in 2019 and 4% in 2018.

Despite several female-directed titles being pushed back to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, including Chloé Zhao’s Eternals and Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, Zhao still helmed the critically acclaimed Nomadland, while Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 were two of the year’s highest-profile releases.

“The good news is that we’ve now seen two consecutive years of growth for women who direct,” the centre’s director Dr Martha Lauzen said in a statement. “This breaks a recent historical pattern in which the numbers trend up one year and down the next. The bad news is that fully 80% of top films still do not have a woman at the helm.”

The number of women in executive producer, producer, and cinematographer roles also increased. However, the number of female writers and editors fell by 8% and 5%, respectively.

The study also found that movies with at least one female director were much more likely to hire women to be editors, cinematographers, or other key behind-the-scenes roles. For example, movies with female directors saw women comprising 53% of writers, whereas movies with only male directors saw women make up only 8% of writers. What’s more, 67% of movies employed between zero women to four women in top behind-the-scenes roles.

While we wait for The Eternals and Black Widow, check out our list of other movie release dates to look forward to in 2021.

I’m an Entertainment Writer at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections – I help bring you all the latest news and the occasional feature, too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.