The percentage of women being cast in UK films has barely changed in over 100 years, according to figures by the British Film Institute (BFI).
BFI’s filmography has been launched as “the world’s first complete and accurate living record of UK cinema”, enabling anyone to research British film history for free. It takes a closer look at gender to try to obtain a better understanding of representation and gender equality in the film industry.
Data from 1913 shows that 26 per cent of the cast in 53 films was female. Of the 74 films that have been released so far in 2017, only 27 per cent of the overall cast were women.
The BFI Filmography also revealed that 59 per cent of films made in the last 10 years had no black actors playing lead or named roles. The most prolific female working actor in British cinema is Dame Judi Dench, with 41 films to her name.
On average, a third of film crew members were female last year, a figure still largely below the UK workforce average. Overall, less than one per cent of film crews had a majority of female members (23 out of over 10,000 films) and only 4.5 per cent of films overall are directed by women.
Dr Vicky Ball, a lecturer in cinema history at De Montfort University, told the BBC: “Jobs in the film industry have been gendered.
Technical jobs have been aligned with masculinity. The predominant role for women was in administration and costume design.
“It’s always good to have a diversity of voices, otherwise whose values are being represented?”
Dr Ball continued to explain that a change in the law helped increase the number of women involved in the television industry, when it was passed 30 years ago.
“The passing of the Anti-Discrimination Act in 1975 and subsequent waves of legislation, coupled with the liberalising social movements of the 60s and 70s, have opened up opportunities for some women in film, TV and beyond.”