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Women hold just 10% senior leadership roles in Indian media & entertainment industry: Ormax Media report

Women held a paltry 10% share in the senior leadership roles in the media and entertainment corporate houses, as well as across the head of department (HOD) roles in Indian films in 2021, finds the second edition of ‘O Womaniya!’ a study on the representation of women in Indian films and M&E industry.

The report by media consulting firm Ormax Media and digital platform Film Companion was supported by Amazon Prime Video.

The report studied the representation and participation of women across three major categories – ‘content’ that included female representation on-screen and behind-the-camera, ‘marketing’ that studied female representation in promotional trailers of films and series, and ‘corporate’ that analysed female representation in boardrooms of top 25 media and entertainment firms.

For the HOD positions in films, a total of five positions were analysed for the report across the sector—direction, writing, cinematography, editing and production design.

The report took into consideration a total of 100 films and 50 series released in 2021 across eight Indian languages – Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali and Gujarati.

As per the report, out of the 56 theatrical films analysed across languages, not even one was directed or edited by a woman. Even in media and entertainment corporate houses, that are at the centre of decision-making, only 10% of senior leadership roles were held by women, having a cascading effect on inclusivity through the production and execution chain.

“While it’s no surprise that female representation in mainstream entertainment is low, the degree of skew, such as 10:90 on some key parameters, should be a wake-up call,” said Shailesh Kapoor, founder & CEO, Ormax Media. “While streaming titles, especially series, are more women-inclusive in on and off-screen representation, theatrical films continue to perform very poorly, and in fact, have shown no positive growth at all since the previous report, which covered content released in 2019 & 2020. We hope that this report serves as a starting point for the industry to come together and discuss ways to address the evident imbalance.”

Anupama Chopra, film critic and founder of Film Companion, said that data is essential to understanding how drastically skewed the gender equation in the Indian film industry is. “O Womaniya! provides us with the starting point for discussion and debate. Starting out as an effort by Ormax Media and Film Companion, the initiative has now found

with the entire industry. The support that we have received from film bodies, streaming services and studios is heartening. We will continue to build this momentum and hopefully lead the way to change,” she said.

More than half of the theatrical releases failed the most basic ‘Bechdel Test’, an Internationally accepted measure of female representation in cinema.

For a film to pass the Bechdel Test, it must have at least one scene in the film in which two named female characters are having a conversation that’s not about a man or men.

Even when it comes to trailers, men outspeak women by a factor of 3:1. As many as 48 properties had trailers in which women spoke for 10 seconds or less.

“While there have been improvements in female representation in Indian entertainment, there hasn’t been any data-backed report in India that can hold a mirror up to the current reality. O Womaniya! 2022 fills the much-needed gap with its rich insights,” said Aparna Purohit, Head of India Originals, Prime Video. “The report serves as a good starting point to initiate discussions on the need to involve more women, particularly in decision-making roles, as that has a ripple effect on inclusivity in the entire ecosystem.”

Purohit added that streaming services have certainly opened the doors for more inclusive storytelling that provides greater opportunities to women and have given voice to more female storytellers resulting in an increase in stories that are driven by female characters.

Incidentally, the percentage of female HODs doubled when a woman greenlit a series or a film. Similarly, a higher percentage of films passed the Bechdel Test (68%) and women had higher trailer talk time (35%) if the title was commissioned by a woman.

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