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Hunger Games Catching Fire
Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Fewer women land lead roles in Hollywood now than in 2002

Only 12 percent of movies featured a woman as the main protagonist

Are women being pushed out of Hollywood by patriarchy? Celluloid Ceiling recently reported that only 7% of Hollywood's directors in 2014 were women. New research by the Centre for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University claims that things are just as bad onscreen too. Out of 23,000 lead roles in 2014, just 12% were women. Back in 2002, it was 16% – so we've actually gone backward. Well done, everyone. 

Films with female protagonists perform perfectly well at the box office, as Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) have proved. But study author Dr Martha Lauzen warned that isolated success stories shouldn't make people complacent over gender equality in cinema.

"There is a growing disconnect or gap between what we might perceive as being the current status of women in film and their actual status,” Dr Lauzen told Variety. "A few high-profile cases can skew our thinking.”

Not only are women underrepresented in lead roles, but in secondary ones too. Women make up just under a third of speaking characters in Hollywood and often they were defined by their personal lives, i.e as wives or mothers, whereas only 31% of men are represented this way.

Lauzen pins the blame on the lack of female influence behind the scenes in Hollywood. "People tend to create what they know and having lived their lives as females, women tend to be drawn to female characters. We need to have greater diversity behind the scenes if this is going to change.”

Half of ticket-buying moviegoers are women – which makes this gender imbalance all the more baffling. Female film lovers, we wanna hear from you. Are you bothered by the way women are represented on your cinema screens? Is the problem way larger than just Hollywood? If a film's aim is to represent real life, do these findings shed light on the idea that we still live in a man's world?

h/t Variety