In Hollywood, are there more main roles for male actors than female (actresses)?

Are there generally more roles for male actors than female (not just leading ones)?

It probably depends on the genre. I use to search for action, thriller, crime genres, but I believe it happens not only in these ones.

For instance, in "Bollywood" there may be very different stats.

I just have this feeling when I scroll down IMDB lists, and most of the times the leading roles are on male actors. And when I find a female leading role, I'm used to see many male actors behind. Maybe that just happens in my preferred genres. Or maybe it's just a general fact. I don't know.

I've also read female leading roles in action movies don't use to do so well in box office, and maybe that affects the listings order. I would like to check that too, and see if there's any evolution or not.

Besides a confirmation on such assumption (I don't know if it's true, because I don't have stats) and any reason on why (too broad for a question), I would like to know stats.

Is there any website with statistics on male versus female presence in movies and/or leading roles?

1 Answer 1


There's an extreme discrepancy in the number of male and female roles in Hollywood film. Doing a little searching on the web will show that it's a major issue and, in the case of directors, is even currently being investigated by the US EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has begun contacting female directors to investigate gender discrimination in Hollywood.

In the EEOC letter sent out Thursday, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, the agency asks to schedule interviews with the women, “so that we may learn more about the gender-related issues which you are facing in both the film and television industries.”

As it relates to actors, specifically, here are some numbers and a fun infographic.

From an article in Variety about a study:

Study Finds Fewer Lead Roles for Women in Hollywood

The gender gap is documented in new research by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University that found that females comprised a paltry 12% of protagonists in the top-grossing films of 2014. Over the past decade, the situation has gotten worse, not better. The latest figures represent a drop of three percentage points from 2013 and a fall of four percentage points from 2002. [. . .]

It’s not just a matter of having their names above the title. In secondary roles, females are underrepresented, comprising 29% of major characters and 30% of all speaking characters. That’s the same percentages as in 2013, but does represent a two percentage point increase over 2002’s figures.

The info from this article is based on a study done by the Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, and their studies are available on their website.

And, the infographic from NY Film Academy (from 2013): Gender Inequality Infographic

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