Where are all the female film reviewers?

Written by Busra Mutlu

Empire film magazine has a readership of 735,000 and a circulation of 147,980. It’s website has 3.1 million unique users and 26.5 million page impressions. has a section for reviews of the week, where they review several films released that week in cinemas. This week there are 7 new film reviews. Out of the 7 reviews published none have a female author. Looking at last week, there were 5 reviews and 2 of them were written by female reviewers. Not bad. Let’s also look at the week before last. Out of the 9 reviews, women wrote only 3 of them. There doesn’t seem to be a lack of male writers at all in the past 3 weeks at Empire, yet female reviewers don’t even make up half of the writers.

Let’s consider Sight and Sound magazine, which is considered a more a ‘serious’ film magazine unlike Empire, which is labeled as being more ‘entertaining’. Their website has a film of the week, which is also published in their magazine. Looking at the past 4 weeks of that section, there are no reviews written by female writers.

We’ll try Little White Lies. This magazine has been described as one of the “magazines at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement”, and is quite new compared to other film magazines, being founded in 2005 so we can expect some equality among the writers. Unfortunately out of the 7 reviews of the week only 1 was written by a woman. They also have reviews of films still showing in cinemas and out of the 5 reviews, 1 is by a female reviewer.

According to Rotten Tomatoes the top male critics wrote 82% and top female critics 18% of the film reviews on its website in Spring 2013. With over 300 film critics on the website. That percentage is disturbingly low.

Why is the number of female critics so low?

Are the numbers low because women don’t watch films? Empire and Total Film magazine has over 75% male readers and less then 25% female readers. The cover’s of these magazines also seem to cater to the male audience, as one of Empire’s most popular covers features Megan Fox half naked. There is an undeniable lack of realistic female characters in films, but there have been improvements in the past couple of years.

Bridesmaids, which has an all female cast, made over £180,000,000 at the box office worldwide. Gravity is another great example with a female lead character and it was a huge success with the critics and fans all over the world. So why isn’t this improvement affecting the writing? Although we are seeing more female driven films, the industry is still ruled by men. The majority of directors, writers and producers are men. The majority of editors and writers are also men, leaving little room for women.

[Image: Gravity/Warner Bros]

Once in a while there are lectures and conversations regarding the lack of female reviewers but there doesn’t seem to be any real action taking towards it. It’s 2015 and less then one third of the reviews published in major film magazines belong to women.

So where are all the female reviewers? Unemployed and underappreciated.