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The Gender Funding Gap

In 2022, Women In Film Los Angeles (WIF) released the report “Women Entrepreneurs in the Screen Industries: Obstacles and Opportunities,’ authored by Pepperdine University’s Alicia Jessop. The study revealed a significant disparity in funding of male-owned vs. female-owned production companies in Hollywood — male-owned screen industry businesses received an astonishing seven times more funding than comparable women-owned businesses.

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This study is the first of its kind, revealing:

The stark reality that a minority of screen industry businesses are owned by women;

The barriers that have led to these low numbers; and

The needed strategies to promote entrepreneurship and drive more funding to women-owned screen industry companies.

Read the Report

To break down the existing barriers and provide equal opportunity for women entrepreneurs, the following solutions are recommended:

1. FUND WOMEN-OWNED COMPANIES. All funders—from banks and private equity firms to studios and networks—must prioritize funding women-owned companies. Funders should set targets, including for overhead and overall deals. To ensure equity and transparency, funders should report annually on the number of women-owned versus men-owned companies funded, and the amount of funding distributed. A database tracking and reporting on funding to women-owned versus men-owned businesses in the screen industry should be developed to expand transparency and ensure the existence of a complete and accurate measurement of the rate and scale of funding to both genders. A fund targeted at financing women-owned businesses in the screen industry should be created to more rapidly address systemic funding barriers.

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2. EXPAND NETWORKS. Increase women’s networks through robust mentoring and sponsorship programs that include access to decision-makers. Train women on the role of agents, managers and entertainment lawyers in financing and how to professionally optimize their relationships with representation.

3. INCREASE FINANCIAL LITERACY. Provide educational programming on how to structure and ask for capital. Create networking roadmaps and opportunities to connect with potential financiers. Create leadership training for early career women to develop confidence to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and eradicate women’s higher level of risk aversion than men in entrepreneurship.

Read the Report

4. END SYSTEMIC BIAS. Disrupt the cycle of systemic bias that determines track record by promoting women to positions where they have full decision-making power and report to the company’s board of directors. Analyze and adjust pay and promotion structures and parental leave and childcare policies to address biases. Identify methods to support women’s pursuit of screen industry entrepreneurship primarily for business opportunity, rather than out of career necessity

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We realized women aren’t getting the same financing that men are getting for their companies. Therefore, we don’t have as many women-owned companies. Therefore, we don’t have as many films made by and about women.
Kirsten Schaffer

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