Leading Roles for Women in Movies Have Increased — But It's Not All Good News

We were all ecstatic to leave 2016, but it turns out not everything about last year was terrible. It was actually a great year for women in movies, something this year's strong batch of Oscar nominees reflects.

A new study from San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that 29 percent of the 100 highest-grossing films of 2016 (domestic) had female protagonists. That's an impressive 7 percent jump from 2015. With films like "The Girl on the Train" and "Rogue One" slaying the box office, this stat makes total sense and proves female-led movies are good for business.

And that's not the only good news: Female characters as a whole are up in film. In 2016, women played 37 percent of all major characters in top movies — a 3 percent jump from 2015. Plus, roles for Asian and Black women increased as well — by 3 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Hopefully, Hollywood producers take these exciting statistics to heart; they all but confirm that female-fronted entertainment isn't niche. People crave stories about women — and these stories can deliver at the box office! "Hidden Figures" wasn't a fluke, people.

But there is some bad news: The number of Latina women in the top films dropped from 4 percent to 3 percent. Also scary: Women made up only 32 percent of all speaking characters in 2016's most popular flicks — a 1 percent dip from 2015. The study also found that audiences still respond more to male characters than female.

These latter statistics are admittedly disheartening, but there is a solution: Hire more female writers and directors. "The New York Times" took a look at this study and noted an interesting statistic: When the writer or director of a film is male, the lead character is a woman roughly 18 percent of the time — but this jumps to 57 percent when women are at the helm of a project.

Of course, we're excited to see all of this progress for women in movies, but there's still so much left to do. With Ava DuVernay heading "A Wrinkle in Time" and Niki Caro steering Disney's "Mulan" reboot, it seems like the tides are changing. They just need to change a little faster.

More From Glamour:
• Oscar Nominations 2017: See the Complete List
• How "Hidden Figures" Is Inspiring Young Women to Seek Careers in STEM
• The "Mulan" Remake Will Be Directed by a Woman
• Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey Are In Disney's "A Wrinkle in Time"

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