This despite the fact that female-directed feature films pulled in a huge $1.2 billion globally in 2017, proving that women have what it takes to make films people want to see.
According to the report, titled "Celluloid Ceiling", in 2017, women comprised just 18 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.
The proportion of women working as directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers ― a group that shapes the stories told onscreen from their conception to filming to screening for audiences ― has remained virtually unchanged for two decades.
In addition, the study found that only one per cent of the top 250 films employed 10 or more women in "key behind-the-scenes positions", while 70 per cent employed 10 or more men in the same roles.
"The film industry has utterly failed to address the continuing underemployment of women behind the scenes", the study's author, Martha M. Lauzen, said.
During Sunday night's Golden Globes, the most powerful women in Hollywood donned black in support of Time's Up, a new initiative created to address pay disparity, discrimination and harassment in the industry in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
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Among the jobs considered, women fared best as producers and executive producers, and worst as cinematographers ― a whopping 96 percent of films had no women helming the camera.
Only one woman has ever won an Oscar for Best Director, with only four women nominated for Best Director since the Academy Awards began in 1929. "When you have women working behind the scenes that frequently translates into more female characters on screens and you tend to see more powerful female characters".
Digging deeper into the numbers, Lauzen found that female-helmed films increased employment opportunities for other women. Female cinematographers only represented 2 percent of the top 100 films.
Lauzen's study analyzed three different movie workforces: people who worked in key behind-the-scenes roles on the top-grossing 100, 250 and 500 films of 2017.
The Celluloid Ceiling has tracked women's employment on top grossing films for the last 20 years.
Women who directed top 250 highest-grossing films in 2017 include Niki Caro ("The Zookeeper's Wife"), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), Sofia Coppola ("The Beguiled"), Lucia Aniello ("Rough Night"), Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird"), Dee Rees ("Mudbound") and Trish Sie ("Pitch Perfect 3").