The ACLU is taking Hollywood to task for one of its many open secrets: sexist hiring practices.

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union requested a state and federal investigation into how major Hollywood studios, networks and talent agencies employ their workers in order to possibly bring charges against them for gender discrimination in “recruiting and hiring female directors,” according to the New York Times.

“Women directors aren’t working on an even playing field and aren’t getting a fair opportunity to succeed,” said Melissa Goodman, director of the L.G.B.T., Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at the A.C.L.U. of Southern California. “Gender discrimination is illegal. And really Hollywood doesn’t get this free pass when it comes to civil rights and gender discrimination.”

According to the ACLU, there is a precedent from the 1960s when the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held Hollywood’s feet to the fire and requested the Justice Department to step in, which eventually found employment discrimination. The Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers negotiated a settlement with a few unions and band-aids were included in the agreements though they weren’t focused on helping women necessarily. And even those band-aids to diversify employment referrals were unsuccessful.

Now, to hopefully sidestep such an outcome, the ACLU. is aiming to attack as-yet-unnamed studios with the worst histories of discrimination, which have been identified through studies and hiring information.

The A.C.L.U. letters cited numerous examples of bias: for instance, a University of Southern California study found that of the top-grossing 100 films from 2013 and 2014, just 1.9 percent were directed by women. A Directors Guild of America analysis of 220 television shows consisting of 3,500 episodes broadcast in 2013 and 2014 found that 14 percent were directed by women. A third of all episodes had no female director at all.

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Hollywood’s dicks-only environment also fosters “overt” gender discrimination where conversations describing shows as “not woman friendly” or declaring “we already hired a woman this season” are the norm. In addition, women directors are afraid to speak out for fear of being black balled for being difficult. Here’s hoping the ACLU is able to give female directors like Ava DuVernay, Kathryn Bigelow, and Gina Prince-Bythewood some company.

Image via Getty.


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