The ACLU Takes on Gender Discrimination in Hollywood

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) filed a complaint and sent letters last week asking for federal and state civil rights agencies to investigate the massive gender discrepancies in the hiring of directors at all levels of the film and television industry.

Paul Matthew Photography / Shutterstock.com
Paul Matthew Photography / Shutterstock.com

ACLU SoCal wrote letters to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs with statistical evidence of the gross shortage of female directors represented in the film and television industry, accompanied with anecdotal accounts from 50 women directors. It is ACLU’s claim that women are being disproportionately excluded in the hiring process, and that those women who are hired are experiencing discrimination.

“Hollywood employers don’t get a free pass to violate civil rights laws,” ALCU SoCal wrote in a statement.

The Director’s Guild of America, who has written about this issue before, has since gotten involved, claiming studios and networks for the dramatic and “deplorable” lack of representation of women directors in the industry.

ACLU cited numerous statistical examples of what it called the film and television industries’ “systemic failure” to hire women directors, including that last year 70 network shows, 31 networks, and 47 production companies hired no women directors whatsoever. ACLU also found that white men directed 69 percent of all television shows analyzed, and that women only made up 7 percent of directors for the top 250 grossing films in 2014.

ACLU included that this discrepancy in the hiring of women has little to do with a shortage of qualified female candidates. On the contrary, “Women are well represented in prominent film schools such as USC, NYU and UCLA,” ACLU SoCal wrote.

“The industry as a whole has been and remains generally very responsive and supportive of civil rights movements, but it hasn’t done enough to own up to and address this glaring civil rights problem it has created and perpetuates,” ACLU SoCal continued.

Media Resources: DGA.org 2014; Huffington Post 5/12/15; ACLUSoCal.org 5/12/15;

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