There is a slew of new data out from the Geena Davis Institute, which was set up by the actress eight years ago to monitor both the quantity and quality of roles played by women in film and television, as well as the gender balances of those behind the scenes in the media industries. As far as I can see the institute confines itself to examining USA-produced material, and to visual media (i.e. I don’t think they look at books). They give themselves a tripartite research/education/advocacy brief to work with, so their goals are not merely passive recording and reaction, but the intention of being a force for change.
Their latest report is the very detailed Gender Roles & Occupations: A Look at Character Attributes and Job-Related Aspirations in Film and Television. Here is the PDF of the full research report. Yes, it’s as bad as you think.
In response, Davis has suggested that November be “Add Female Characters Month”. Women and Hollywood quoted Davis’s three step plan for industry creatives:
1) Go through your script and change several male characters to female
2) Insure that your crowd scenes are half female by writing it in the script “A crowd gathers, which is half women”
3) If there’s a group, gang, squad, or team in your story, make several of them women, not just one!
A neat summary that highlights both how easy it should be to fix things, and the ridiculous fact that the above is not remotely the default.