Study Finds That Actresses Should Be Picky To Survive In Movie Industry


A new study titled, “Do Women Suffer from Network Closure? The Moderating Effect of Social Capital on Gender Inequality in a Project-Based Labor Market, 1929 to 2010,” analyses the difficulty faced by women working in the film industry. The study found that for actresses to survive in the film industry, they need to be very choosy about whom they work with.

For the study, lead author and head of the “Transnational Diffusion of Innovation” Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG) in Germany, Mark Lutter, analysed 400,000 movies of about 100,000 actors and actresses. The movies were solely from the American film industry and the data were collected from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). The site provides information on all aspects of the movies – from the details of the actors to the people they worked with, the press release states.

Lutter found that when the actresses work with various groups and people from different social and cultural backgrounds, their career prospers and are commended as much as their male counterparts. It was observed that when actresses work in homogeneous groups and with teams where men are at senior positions, their career opportunities tend to decline. Working in male dominated film genres poses a risk to their careers, and this is higher when it comes to women who are at the initial stages of their career.

“I suspect that women suffer when they are frequently part of homogeneous teams because they might enjoy a much lower degree of active support from mentors than men, and their professional friendship networks might also give them access to fewer contacts in positions of power,” Lutter said. He states that it also leads to them being excluded from information that hold significance with regard to future projects.

Though the study focuses on women in the film industry, the findings hold true for all females who work in project-based labor markets, the press release states. This is because the work is dependent on informal contacts and a person’s personal network. Lutter suggests that women must break away from relying on their personal network and build professional relationships with people other than those in their personal circles. Another way would be to strategically consider their future projects and take decisions in a manner befitting their profession, he states.

Lutter states that his research also provides several strategies for women to cope with the challenges posed by their job markets. It also highlights steps for employers to take while creating project teams.

The study will be published in the April print issue of the American Sociological Review.

Comments are closed.