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Could parent-friendly practices be the key to fixing Hollywood’s gender problem?

by Caitlin Plummer | AirTalk®

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Actors Ryan Reynolds (L) and Blake Lively pose with their daughters as Ryan Reynolds is honored with star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 15, 2016 in Hollywood, California. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made a big jump to include women filmmakers in its exclusive Hollywood club, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

These invitations are an important step in increasing female recognition at the Oscars every year, as women made up only 27 percent of the body that voted on nominees in 2016, but they still don’t touch on the larger problem behind the numbers: the overall lack of women working in Hollywood. Though gender discrimination in hiring practices is an issue, a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times argues Hollywood could fix its gender disparity by implementing a more parent-friendly work culture.

Fill-in host Libby Denkmann speaks with the op-ed’s author Mathilde Dratwa about not only the lack of women working in Hollywood, but also the lack of mothers. Dratwa explains that of The Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 100 Most Powerful People in Entertainment this year, only 10 percent are mothers – up from 8.8 percent the year before.

Mathilde: You’re looking at two percentages. There’s a very low percentage of women working in film, and then of those women, a low percentage of women are mothers. So mothers are really underrepresented compared to other fields… When you look at the workforce across the board, the number of mothers is actually closer to 85 percent of women.

Dratwa, a filmmaker and mother herself, founded the nonprofit Moms-In-Film, which aims to energize the careers of mothers in the entertainment industry through community, funding and advocacy. She says the entertainment industry is not friendly to parents by nature due to the prevalence of freelance positions with irregular schedules.

Mathilde: As a freelancer, you’re not getting a job that gives you benefits. You don’t have on-site childcare, and on top of that, you’re required to work for approximately 12 to 15 hours a day... So if you have a child and you’re looking for some kind of childcare for your kid – and this is keeping in mind that there is a childcare crisis right now across America generally – you’re looking for someone who can watch your kid for more hours than is typical.

Moms-In-Film piloted a possible solution to this problem at the South by Southwest Film Festival this year: a mobile childcare unit, which they were able to provide through a grant from the festival. The nonprofit is continuing to push for affordable and accessible childcare options for parents working in film, but Dratwa says making the industry more parent-friendly could be as simple as adding parenthood into the conversation during the hiring process.

Mathilde: It could be just being very communicative with mothers when they’re thinking of employing them and really discussing their needs – making sure that you’re very vocal about the fact that your set is child-friendly. Making sure there is a place to pump or nurse, and that all the people working on a production know where that place is. 

Guest:

Mathilde Dratwa, filmmaker and founder of the nonprofit Moms-In-Film; her op-ed “Hollywood's gender problem is really a mom problem” was published in the LA Times last week

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