As a tot, you surely once envisioned for yourself a burgeoning career in the entertainment industry—whether as a world-touring pop star à la Britney Spears or a high-profile actress like Jennifer Aniston. Now we have proof that a career in today’s screen sector might be more important than ever to pursue. (And no, we’re not just trying to stroke your ego.)
According to San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, the number of female protagonists in last year’s 100 top-grossing movies reached an all-time high, with 29% of films casting a woman as the lead character and 37% of films including major female characters—think Rogue One‘s Felicity Jones, Arrival‘s Amy Adams and Ghostbusters‘ all-female ensemble. Compared with the numbers in 2015, those percentages are up seven points and three points respectively, proving that women are truly worth their talent at the box office.
While we’ve always known this, Hollywood has been slow to acknowledge it. In fact, the overall number of speaking roles for women has seen a decline of 1%. Even worse, minority female characters delivered mixed results: Asian actresses doubled from 3% to 6% and black women rose from 13% to 14%—but Latina characters decreased from 4% to 3%. Clearly, more work needs to be done.
On the bright side, arguably the most noteworthy statistic shows that movies with female directors and writers have 57% female protagonists—compared to just 18% female protagonists in movies directed or written exclusively by men. In this day and age, it’s never been more critical for women to tell other women’s stories, so if you’re looking for a career change and you’re female (or pro-female protagonists), get after it!