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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women?: critics are slightly more likely to rate a film highly if it represents women well

watwcritics

My Where Are the Women? project, analyzing the films of 2015 for their representation of women, is now finished, and I’ve crunched some numbers.

Get an introduction to this analysis here. You can examine a comprehensive spreadsheet of the details about these 153 films here.

see also:

only 22% of 2015’s movies had female protagonists
best and worst representations of women on film in 2015 (and the average WATW score for the year)
• mainstream moviegoers are not turned off by films with female protagonists
movies that represent women well are just as likely to be profitable as movies that don’t, and are less risky as business propositions


Here’s what it looks like when we compare a film’s WATW score to its Rotten Tomatoes score:

(Hover over a dot for the film’s WATW score, title, and RT score. Click here to see the chart in a separate zoomable window.)

There is a 0.22 correlation between a film’s Rotten Tomatoes score and its WATW score, meaning that there is a very slight tendency for a film that represents women well to rate more highly with RT critics.tweet

And here’s what happens when we compare a film’s WATW score to its Metacritic score:

(Hover over a dot for the film’s WATW score, title, and MC score. Click here to see the chart in a separate zoomable window.)

The correlation between a film’s Metacritic score and its WATW score is a little bit higher — 0.28 — so these elite critics are slightly more likely still to rate a film better if it represents women well.tweet

What this means, basically, is that Rotten Tomatoes critics are 22 percent more likely to give a good score to films that represent women well, and Metacritic critics are 28 percent more likely to do so. What that means is that movies about women are more likely to be better movies than movies about men, as determined by criticstweet. This may be because movies about men are so predominant and tell so many similar stories over and over again, so movies about women are simply going to feel fresher.

(Big thanks to reader RogerBW for pointing out the numerical correlations, and for sending me in the direction to learn more about statistical correlations. As I said to him, I never took a statistics course!)

What about comparing Rotten Tomatoes scores with the gender of a film’s protagonist?

(Hover over a dot for the film’s title and RT score. Click here to see the chart in a separate zoomable window.)

There is a positive correlation here, but it’s very tiny: only 0.05.tweet

And Metacritic scores versus the gender of a film’s protagonist?

(Hover over a dot for the film’s title and MC score. Click here to see the chart in a separate zoomable window.)

Again, there is a very small yet still positive correlation here: 0.08.tweet

What about my own personal critical reactions to movies? I’ve made a point of keeping the WATW ratings separate from my reviews because — as I’ve said many times — a movie that represents women well can still be a crappy movie, and a movie that doesn’t represent women well can still be a great movie. (The problem isn’t that any given individual movie doesn’t represent women well but that so damn many of them don’t.) That said, how does that hold up across my reviews of these films?

(Hover over a dot for the film’s title and WATW score. Click here to see the chart in a separate zoomable window.)

The correlation here is pretty strong — 0.49 — but not absolute. I have rated highly films that do not score well on the WATW test, and have rated poorly films that do well on WATW.

And how do my grades compare with the gender of a film’s protagonist?

(Hover over a dot for the film’s title. Click here to see the chart in a separate zoomable window.)

The correlation here is weaker but still positive: 0.23. But here is scientific proof! I do not automatically like movies better if they’re about women (which I’ve often been accused of). If I did, the correlation would be 1.

More analysis!


Where Are the Women? was partially supported by a Kickstarter campaign — a HUGE thank-you to my generous Kickstarter supporters — but those funds did not begin to cover all the time, effort, and expense that went into this project.

If you find Where Are the Women? useful, interesting, or important, please support it now by:

buying some Where Are the Women? merch
becoming a monthly or yearly subscriber of FlickFilospher.com
making a one-time donation via Paypal


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