Research Uncovers Gender Gap Amongst ‘High Status’ Employees at Film Markets


New research from Stephen Follows has found that women make up just 35% of ‘high status’ employees at the three key international film markets.

The study looked at sales and distribution professionals attending the European Film Market (EFM), Marche du Film (Cannes) and American Film Market (AFM) over the past 10 years. The idea to look at this data arose from a discussion about women in international sales at a recent Birds Eye View Board meeting, as Follows is a Board member.

Back in 2009, women accounted for 35% of all attendees, whereas so far in 2018 the figure has risen to 44%. So it would seem progress is being made. However, when the data was split out by the status of those attendees, a different picture emerged.

Women accounted for 32% of high-status employees, 51% of mid-status employees and 64% of low-status employees.

Going on to break down the data by sub-sectors within the sales and distribution world, Follows found that distribution companies and production companies have the highest percentage of men in high-status jobs (71% and 69% respectively). Only film commissions have a majority of women in such roles (52%). The publicity sector has 43% women in high status roles and film festivals 41%. All sub-sectors were found to have a majority of women in their lowest ranks.

When split out by geography – looking at professionals who attended at least one of the three markets – the Russian and Chineses film sales industries have an almost equal number of men and women in high-status jobs (49% and 47% were women, respectively) while Germany and India sit at the opposite end of the spectrum (27% and 24%).

Of UK-based professionals, just 30% of high status employees were women, compared to 58% of mid-status and 72% of low-status.

The reason why this matters, of course, is because not only does it suggest an inequality of professional opportunity, but the sales and distribution sectors hold a lot of power over what films get seen. If the majority of those top decision makers are male, we may be missing out on a full and diverse range of voices – in just the same way we have seen to be the case when there is a lack of diversity amongst those who are greenlighting and making films.


To read more about the research, as well as the methodology, click here.

NB. Follows’ study was focused on gender, and did not take into account other areas of diversity, such as ethnicity and sexuality.

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