Monday, May 5, 2008

the 6%

WARNING: feminist discussion below. If you're not feeling terribly feminist-discussion-oriented, then I strongly urge you to check out the charming, Lord of the Mapquest Programmers, popcult-savvy Clifton Craig, since goodness knows he's been trying to funnel enough traffic to li'l ol' me, and it's time I return this long-overdue favor. Then, go visit the dashing, Lord of the Sound Designers Who Also Enjoy Programming, Frank-Capra-savvy Jamie Hardt; he rocks his shades like Corey Hart, but with rather less pouting, thank goodness.

And then, of course, there is always the prestige of the Pianola.

Moving right along:

I know a fab filmmaker named Sasha from USC, and yesterday she sent out a mass email to us 'SC alumnae informing us of the following:

nyt article about women in movies
[requires free registration]

This article says nothing new; it's all the same moaning which has been going on for years about the obvious fact that everybody hates the gals, nobody in the film biz wants to hire us, nobody wants to market to us, we'll never make it in the boys' world, we all might as well just march ourselves into the ocean along with our wretched scrapbooking, potpourri, suffrage etc.

These articles annoy me, both because I've seen so many of them they're turning into a whiny, depressing blur; and also because my spunky, brave nature hates admitting they're true. It's pretty brutal when multiple male cinematographers tell me that they've seen their female counterparts get offered far less pay for the same jobs, if the gals even got offered the jobs at all. Sigh. But hey, that's what I signed up for; no one put a gun to my head and said "Attempt a career in film, Ms. Phillips, or I'll hand your brains to your parents in a convenient and tastefully decorated plastic bag."

But here's something which stood out for me:

"Some point to the lack of female directors, whose numbers in both the mainstream and independent realms hover at around 6 percent."

When I read that, I immediately had to send out this mass response to the email list:

Thanks for the article, Sasha! What I find really crazy -- and I'd love to have somebody on this list prove me wrong -- is that the figure "6%" seems to crop up a lot with women in film. The article says about 6% of current, mainstream directors are female; this is the same percentage I got when calculating female membership of the ASC as well as of the SOC. Crazy!

So, where did the magic number 6 come from? Surely it's not that we only have 6% of a typical man's testosterone? 6% of a typical man's ambition? Enterprise? Talent? Are only 6% of America's female population willing to try film in the first place? Or are there really hordes and hordes of us, and most male executives possess only 6% of their total possible courage to hire us and market to us?

All very peculiar. Any and all thoughts on this would be welcome!
Astrid "Six Percent" Phillips

And I hereby extend this invitation to you, dear reader, to offer your opinion on the subject. Or put on your red shoes and dance the blues, with your Corey Hart shades on at night, whichever comes first. (He really is wearing red shoes in his "Sunglasses at Night" video, I love it!)

Oh yeah, and happy Cinco de Mayo, while you're at it. Olé and so forth.


  1. You're only one percent shy of a solution. *ba dum chee*

    Ah... that's really all I've got. It's a bad situation, to be sure.

  2. Is the percent of women in computer related professions such as programming and IT also 6%?

    If it is, that's a much higher percent than I've seen!


  3. @ Kent: if only 7% could be the tipping point, we'd all be golden. I'd be fine with, oh, I dunno, 50%? Maybe I'm asking for too much, though....

  4. @ Celes: I wish I knew. It would be fascinating if it turned out to be true. And I know what you mean -- I've seen closer to 3% women in IT situations!

    Good luck with the new job, kick ass and take names! Or take ass and kick names. Or take kicks and name ass. Or just bring doughnuts, that usually calms the natives some.

  5. Hey- thanks. So far so good here. Usually the guys I work with have less problems than the other people who look at the team I'm on and are all "Oooh, ah... they better clean up their language and jokes... ladies present" and other such nonsense. I mean, really. It's not the first time I've been 'one of the guys'.