AWFJ Women On Film – “The Celluloid Ceiling II” – Dr. Martha Lauzen

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For over a decade, The Celluloid Ceiling study has tracked women’s representation as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers on the top 250 domestic grossing films. In an effort to assess the larger picture of women’s employment in film, this year we also monitored production designers, production managers/production supervisors, sound designers/supervising sound editors, key grips, and gaffers.

The following summary provides employment figures for 2008. This is the first time such statistics have been compiled, thus figures from prior years are not available for comparison.


This study analyzed behind-the-scenes employment of 1,318 individuals working on the top 250 domestic grossing films (foreign films omitted) of 2008 with combined domestic box office grosses of approximately $9.4 billion.

  • Women accounted for 25% of production managers working on the top 250 films of 2008. Eighty five percent (85%) of the films had no female production managers.

  • Women comprised 44% of production supervisors. Seventy-two percent (72%) of films had no female production supervisors.
  • In 2008, women accounted for 20% of all production designers working on the top 250 films. Eighty one percent (81%) of films had no female production designers.
  • Women comprised 5% of sound designers. Ninety seven percent (97%) of films had no female sound designers.
  • Women accounted for 5% of supervising sound editors working on the top 250 films of 2008. Ninety six percent (96%) of films had no female supervising sound editors.
  • In 2008, women comprised 1% of key grips. Ninety nine percent (99%) of films had no female key grips.
  • Women accounted for 1% of gaffers working on the top 250 films of 2008. Ninety nine percent (99%) of films had no female gaffers.

Production managers and production supervisors are responsible for the management of a production including the creation and maintenance of a budget, hiring crews, and managing union contracts. Sound designers and supervising sound editors determine the overall sound of the film. Production designers are in charge of the art department and work closely with the cinematographer and costume designer to create the overall look of the film. Key grips oversee the other grips, the rigging technicians on a set. Gaffers head up the electrical department on films.

Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D.

Copyright © 2009 – All rights reserved.

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).