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Parity between women and men on screen, the Bechdel test: 4000 films rated

By the numbers
February 3, 2016
To pass the Bechdel test a film must have at least two named women in it who talk to each other about something besides a man. Polygraph has analyzed the results on the test of the main 4000 films of the past 20 years, 214 Canal+ films among them. Here there are.

Based on the results of 4000 movies since 1985 on the Bechdel test, Polygraph has endeavoured to analyze the figures and the level of sexism of a scenario they reveal. More than that, the study examines the gender of the decision makers behind the camera and the results are closely linked to the presence of women. The results speak for themselves : on the 4000 films only 60% pass the test but if you only select the films for which there is at least one woman writer, director or producer among the decision makers you get a 91% success rate.The study points the finger at the role of women in cinema, both in front of and behind the camera. Of the 4,500 directors, only 500 were women, that is to say 11% of women directors and mostly on small-market indie films. The women who are writers, directors or producers are really rare ( see our infographics Infographics 68th Cannes film festival: women in the film industry , May 2015).

On his website Polygraph has also made a ranking of the success rate of the films on the Bechdel test depending on their production studios. On this point, Europeans studios are far more progressive than American ones. As such, on the 214 Canal+ films 66% succeed in passing the test and the success rate is of 83% for the 47 Ciné+ films.  BBC films achieve the highest score with 83% of its 59 productions passing the test. On the contrary, more than a half of films produced by Warner Bros, Columbia and Dreamworks fail the test. 

The test has its limits. A movie plot focuses on a woman and a man or several men is not enough to call a film “sexist”. However, the results of the study by Polygraph remind us that more women among the decision makers in cinema mean more women on screen.

Find out more:

Polygraph’s study: Hollywood's Gender Divide and its Effect on Films (January 2016)

Infographics 68th Cannes film festival: women in the film industry (May 2015)

The study of Vivendi and Laboratoire de l’égalité on “Women in music and cinema in Europe” (November 2013)



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