Male film critics continue to outnumber female critics nearly 2 to 1


The arena of film criticism continues to look like a man’s world.

A new study shows that at the start of 2020, male critics outnumbered their female counterparts by nearly 2 to 1, before the coronavirus pandemic brought the film industry to a halt and cinemas closed around the world this spring.

Female film critics contributed 35% of film reviews across print, broadcast and online media, up 1% from 2019, according to the report, “Thumbs Down 2020: Film Critics and Gender, and Why It Matters”.

Although the increase in the number of female film critics seems marginal, the figures show a marked improvement from the split of 73% male to 27% female in 2016.

Since 2007, the study has been conducted annually at San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women’s Film and Television. The researchers, led by Dr Martha Lauzen, analyzed more than 4,000 film reviews by more than 380 people working for print, broadcast and online media from January to March 2020.

The researchers also purport to consider “the potential impact of gender imbalance” through their analysis of representation among the population of film critics – “accounting for the relationship between the gender of film critics and the gender of protagonists; the relationship between the gender of reviewers and their quantitative evaluation of films (i.e., star ratings, ratings, etc.); and the relationship between gender of reviewers and gender of directors.

Lauzen’s team explains, “The overrepresentation of men as film critics, coupled with the fact that a higher proportion of their reviews focus on male-led stories and films, benefits these films in their giving greater visibility.

For example, the report indicates that films directed by women or directed by women were more often reviewed by women than by men. In a film with at least one female lead, women wrote 54% of the reviews, while men wrote 55% of the reviews for films with male leads. As stated in the study, “it is unclear whether these differences are due to reviewer preferences or editorial assignments.”

When it comes to the type of media film critics work for, women outnumber men in radio and television; female reviews make up 58% of reviews on these platforms. But men vastly outnumber women when reviewing newspapers, news websites and news agencies; men make up 69% of film critics in these arenas.

When it comes to race and ethnicity, film critics of color remain underrepresented. 2020 study shows 70% of female reviewers are white, 23% are women of color, and 7% are of unknown racial/ethnic identity, while 73% of male reviewers are white, 18% are men of color and 9% have an unknown racial/ethnic identity. The 2019 report detailed the racial and ethnic breakdown of film critics as a whole – showing that 50% of writers were white men, 23% were white women, 10% were minority men, 6% were minority women and 11% of both men and women. were classified with “unknown racial/ethnic identity”.

The study goes on to break down the genres of films reviewed by male and female critics, the job titles they hold and the average ratings given to films, as well as the gender composition of “Top Critics” as designated by Rotten. Tomatoes.

The full report can be viewed here.


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