The number of female leads in hit Hollywood movies fell in 2017

Exception to the rule.
Exception to the rule.
Image: Warner Bros.
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It hasn’t been a great year for women in Hollywood.

A powerful reckoning against sexual assault put a spotlight on the industry’s endemic sexism, including pay inequality and a lack of directing opportunities. But this has yet to make the same impact on-screen as it has off it.

Women comprised just 24% of the protagonists in the 100 highest-grossing films in 2017, according to San Diego State University. That’s down from 29% the year before.

Things are a bit better among all major characters, with 37% female representation last year, unchanged from 2016. And moviegoers are hearing, not just seeing, female characters marginally more, with women comprising 34% of speaking roles in 2017, up from 32% in 2016.