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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

where are the female film critics?

We’ve been talking about the treatment of women by Hollywood, but the other side of the street — the community of people who look at Hollywood from a critical perspective — is just as bad. Not that that comes as any great shock.

A new study examined the porportion of women to men in the field of newspaper film criticism, as well as the work men and women do and how they are recognized by title, and came to some rather disheartening conclusions:

Men write the overwhelming majority of film reviews in the nation’s top newspapers. In Fall 2007, men penned 70% and women 30% of all reviews. Furthermore, of the newspapers featuring film reviews, 47% had no reviews written by women critics, writers or freelancers. In contrast, only 12% had no reviews written by men critics, writers or freelancers.

The full study appears at the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (a group of which I am a member, though I had nothing to do with the study). The study’s author, Dr. Martha Lauzens, is a member of the board of the AWFJ.

The study looked only at newspapers, which are having their own troubles these days, particularly when it comes to arts criticism, and did not look at magazines, online, or other venues (TV, radio). My own nonscientific sense of things is that men far outnumber women as film critics online, too.

It’s weird: it’s not like being a film critic is a high-paying job, and critics don’t get much respect from anyone at all these days. That sounds like precisely the kind of thankless work that women always get stuck with. So where are all the gals?

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