Federal Officials to Investigate Whether Gender Discrimination Still Exists in Hollywood

The ACLU asked officials to investigate the industry's hiring practices.

— -- Federal officials are investigating a perceived gender bias in Hollywood, according to the ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU Women's Rights Project.

In a press release issued Wednesday, representatives from the organizations thanked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs for launching a probe into their claims.

This comes one year after they asked federal and state governments to investigate what they called "blatant and rampant discrimination against women directors in the film and television industries."

“ACLU SoCal and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project are pleased that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs gave careful consideration to our findings and responded by launching a wide-ranging and well-resourced investigation into the industry’s hiring practices," read a statement on behalf of the organizations. "We are encouraged by the scope of the government’s process and are hopeful that the government will be moving to a more targeted phase."

Last May, the ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU Women's Rights Project released a public letter to the feds, in which they appealed to them to launch an investigation into hiring practices by major studios in Hollywood. Citing information from 50 female directors, the groups stated that they uncovered discriminatory recruiting and screening practices, stereotypical evaluation of women, and a lack of enforcement of industry agreements to increase the number of women and people of color in various roles.

“In the year since our report was released, there has been much lip-service paid to furthering opportunities for women, but few definitive steps and no serious movement in the number of women directors hired," the organizations stated today. "We are confident that the government will corroborate our work and push industry leaders to address the ongoing violations of the legal and civil rights of these directors and of all women in the film and television industries.”

Diversity has become a hot-button issue in Hollywood this year. In January, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that its membership policy was being overhauled in an attempt to double the number of women and minorities by 2020.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”