Study finds 2019 was a record year for women protagonists, we expect to see more this year

Host Issa Rae (2nd from L) poses with honorees Lena Waithe, Gwyneth Paltrow, Melina Matsoukas, Zendaya, Mindy Kaling, Scarlett Johansson, and Natalie Portman during ELLE's 26th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for ELLE)
Host Issa Rae (2nd from L) poses with honorees Lena Waithe, Gwyneth Paltrow, Melina Matsoukas, Zendaya, Mindy Kaling, Scarlett Johansson, and Natalie Portman during ELLE's 26th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for ELLE)

The percentage of female leads in top-grossing films rose from 31% to 40%. Of the female protagonists, 44% appeared in studio features and 55% appeared in independent features.

According to Dr Martha Lauzen, the study's author, this change indicates a positive turn in female representation.

"We have now seen two consecutive years of substantial gains for female protagonists, indicating the beginning of a positive shift in representation," Dr Martha tells Variety Magazine.  

However, in terms of women from underrepresented groups, the numbers are not as indicative of progress.

READ MORE: Black women influencers get paid far less than their white counterparts, experts say

Black women's speaking roles have decreased from 21% to 20% in 2019. Asian female characters dropped from 10% in 2018 to 7% in 2019.

Overall, only 18% of major female roles were black, 6% were Latina and 5% were Asian.

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