Women are Breaking Into Hollywood in a Completely New Way

The path to Hollywood may be changing if you're a woman, especially given its inclusion crisis stated in a recent study.

"The prequel to #OscarsSoWhite is #HollywoodSoWhite," said Stacy L. Smith, a USC professor and one of the study's authors, in an interview. "We don't have a diversity problem. We have an inclusion crisis."

A new study released by the Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism analyzed more than 450 film and television shows including broadcast, cable, and streaming features from September 2014 to August 2015.

And while the numbers in the study were abysmal, alternative streaming platforms like Hulu and Amazon were rated strongly for inclusion of women. Amazon was the only company rated fully inclusive for hiring female directors.

There also seems to be a growing trend for diversity in television.

Yet despite this positive momentum, the film industry was given a failing grade for inclusion in the study, and television networks fared only slightly better.

The study examined the race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual status of on-screen characters and found that while women make up about half of the nation's population, they only comprised a third of the speaking roles of characters on screen. This finding is compounded by the fact that in many of these speaking roles, women were often sexualized by being featured nude or in sexy clothes, or simply being referred to as physically attractive.

Regarding people of color, only 7 percent of films had casts with ethnicity levels reflective of the U.S. population. But broadcast television fared slightly better with 19 percent of casts reflecting the nation's ethnicity levels.

The study also highlighted the notion that women are facing erasure and invisibility behind the camera. Just 3 percent of film directors are women. But some directors have broken through this glass ceiling, like MAKER Ava DuVernay, who directed "Selma," which was snubbed by the Oscars for "Best Motion Picture" in 2015. She is currently directing the movie adaptation of "A Wrinkle In Time."

The study showed that the inclusion of women was somewhat better for women in television, with 17 percent of women cast as directors. Among the major media networks studied, The Walt Disney Company and The CW Network performed best for inclusion. Critics also point to MAKER Shonda Rhimes as an example of a woman of color controlling all of the Thursday prime-time programming on ABC, with her groundbreaking shows "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal," and "How to Get Away With Murder."

And in positive news that could lead to increased diversity in television, ABC recently appointed Channing Dungey as their network's entertainment head, making her the first African-American woman to lead one of television's big four networks.

NEXT: Get to Know Ava DuVernay »

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