Walmart is facing criticism for not featuring any female directors for an ad campaign that aired during Sunday’s Academy Awards.
The world’s largest retailer is a sponsor of the Oscars and commissioned several short films directed by prominent filmmakers. Marc Forster, Antoine Fuqua, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were tasked to create a short film based on items from a Walmart receipt.
When the store’s ads aired Sunday night, viewers noticed that none of them were directed by women — including Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, who tweeted that she was “disappointed” that female filmmakers were left out. Women have long been underrepresented in the film industry, particularly as directors, producers, writers, editors, cinematographers and other roles behind the camera.
Walmart told Hornaday that the company did ask female directors to participate in the series, but none did, “mainly due to scheduling.”
Walmart did not return a request for comment.
Just like the lack of racial diversity, there is an alarming and disappointing lack of gender parity in Hollywood. Year after year, studies have shown that women are woefully underrepresented in the film industry, especially in behind-the-camera roles and leadership positions.
In 2016, only 7 percent of the 250 top-grossing films were directed by women, according to researchers at the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film at San Diego State University. Women made up only 24 percent of producers, 17 percent of editors, 13 percent of writers and 5 percent of cinematographers who worked on those films. The rates were slightly higher for smaller, independent movies.
But even more alarming is the relative lack of change. The same study found that the overall percentage of women working behind the scenes was the same as it was in 1998.
The problem was even the subject of a federal investigation in 2015. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reportedly forced major studios to settle allegations that they have “systematically discriminated against female directors.”
Only one woman has ever won the Oscar for Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, for her 2009 film “The Hurt Locker.”