Hollywood doesn’t like women over 30 — and more findings on gender from a century of film

Judi dench m funny or die video
Judi Dench, 81, is fighting the trend. The Weinstein Company

Hollywood is predictably sexist, according to a new analysis of stars through history.

Clemson economists Robert Fleck and Andrew Hanssen analysed gender and age for Hollywood roles going back to 1920 using IMDB data. Their forthcoming study showed that women get more parts before the age of 30 but less overall when compared to men.

There appears to be some progress over time — the median age of women on-screen has climbed from 27 to 32 — but it’s slow.

“In the past, everyone expected that scientists and police officers would all be male — and now we’re accustomed to regularly engaging with female officers and scientists,” Fleck told the Washington Post. “And as time goes on, more of those supporting roles and characters should be played by women. And this may be happening — but the data don’t show much of a difference.”

Here’s a look at lead roles by age, where women dominate early but lose overall:

Lead roles by age

Here’s the gender mix of lead roles over time — steadily dominated by men since the end of the Silent Era:

Leading roles only

Here’s female lead ages over time. The median (in red) is creeping higher. Perhaps more impressive is how the 95th percentile (green) has jumped from 40 to 60:

Female lead actors

Male leads are slightly older these days:

Male lead actors

Meanwhile, the top ten grossing actors list has long been dominated by men since the Silent Era, perhaps now more than ever.

Top ten actors

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