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Hollywood Discriminates Against Female Directors, Says ACLU

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Hollywood has long been criticized for acting like an exclusive boys-only club, and now the American Civil Liberties Union aims to actually expose a "systematic failure" to hire female directors in both film and television.

The A.C.L.U. of Southern California is asking state and federal agencies to investigate Hollywood's major studios, networks and talent agencies for rampant and intentional discrimination in recruiting and hiring women as directors. Along with the national ACLU Women's Rights Project the organization has gathered statistical evidence and personal accounts from 50 women directors showing widespread gender discrimination and "“overt sex stereotyping and implicit bias," according to the New York Times.

Agents representing the 50 female directors surveyed were told by producers to "not send women" for prospective jobs, while those applying to work in television were reportedly told by networks and studios that "we already hired a woman this season."

In a rather un-Hollywood move, the A.C.L.U. didn't name-drop any specific studios or directories, but requests that studies and hiring information be used to target the worst offenders. If a bias is found against hiring women, the organization plans to file legal charges.

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“Women directors aren’t working on an even playing field and aren’t getting a fair opportunity to succeed,” said Melissa Goodman, director of the L.G.B.T., Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at the A.C.L.U. of Southern California. “Gender discrimination is illegal. And really Hollywood doesn’t get this free pass when it comes to civil rights and gender discrimination.”

A University of Southern California study, cited by the A.C.L.U., found that of the top-grossing 100 films from 2013 and 2014, just 1.9 percent were directed by women. And according to the Directors Guild of America, of the 3,500 television episodes broadcast in 2013 and 2014, only 14 percent were directed by women.

There are also fewer women working as directors today than less than two decades ago, and even those numbers are suspiciously low. The two organizations estimate that only 7 percent of the top 250 grossing films in 2014 were directed by women, compared to 2 percent higher in 1998.

Goodman charges that, "Blatant and extreme gender inequality in this large and important industry is shameful and unacceptable."

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