Story published by The Post; written by Meryl Gottlieb.

Natalie Hulla remembers looking around a screenwriting class during her junior year at Ohio University and realizing she was the only woman in the room.

Second-Year M.F.A. Film Student Natalie Hulla

“I thought, ‘This is odd,’” said Hulla, now a second-year graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts film production program. “I remember, I was usually one of the maybe two or three girls in my undergraduate film classes — that was always kind of very surprising for me. I didn’t really understand why. … I guess I’m so used to that gender disparity.”

She had nine male classmates and a male professor.

It’s a situation plaguing most of American cinema. Women constituted 17 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films, according to the 2014 Celluloid Ceiling report, produced by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. 

It’s the same number the study found of women working in the industry in 1998.

“There’s nothing about being female that indicates some lesser interest in this particular art form,” said Annie Howell, an associate professor of film. “Just as many people want to participate — it’s just the gates are particularly locked. The more (filmmaking) involves big business, the harder it is for women to excel.”

Howell, who is the only female professor in the Division of Film this year, said the problem stems from the power structure in Hollywood, which typically produces the films the study analyzes. 

“The history of that particular network is based in a profile that is entirely male and once that power structure is entrenched, even if there are some women there, the choices being made at the top reflect the interest and the life experience of those people,” Howell said. “This impacts who gets through the door, who gets hired and who gets financed.”

Susanne Dietzel, director of OU’s Women’s Center, said the lack of women in filmmaking roles influences the stories shown on screen.

“We’re not getting a full representation of who we are as a society because if only a few number of people are our storytellers, then we’re missing other stories,” she said. “We can’t assume the 80 percent of men who are determining what our stories are or what films get produced, that they would know what women go through and what we would like to see on the screen.”

None of the eight films nominated for Best Picture in this year’s Oscars has a female protagonist. Many were surprised at Ava DuVernay’s “snub” for Best Director for Selma, not only because she would have been the first black female director to have ever been nominated, but also because she had been nominated at the 2015 Golden Globe Awards. 

Hulla, one of the three women in the second-year MFA film class, cited a comment made by Cathy Schulman, president of Women in Film, in a blog. The organization focuses on empowering women in the entertainment and media industries.

“(Schulman) said it’s startling to me and confusing that a film is nominated for Best Picture but the director is not because I’ve never seen a film direct itself,” Hulla said. “She directly pointed to the fact that the director of Selma was not nominated and she is a woman.”

Oscar voters are 94 percent white and 76 percent male, according to The Atlantic.

When women do make it to top positions in Hollywood, they are typically paid less than their male counterparts, according to information that was leaked as part of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in late 2014.

The hack exposed alleged salaries of more than 6,000 Sony employees, including its 17 top paid executives, who all annually earn more than $1 million.

Those top executives were 88 percent white and 94 percent male. 

Amy Pascal, former co-chair of Sony Pictures and chair of Sony’s Motion Picture Group, was the only woman among the top 17 executives. She earned $3 million, the same as CEO Michael Lynton.  

The document also shows that Hannah Minghella, co-president of production at Sony’s Columbia Pictures division, makes $800,000 less per year than her male counterpart, Michael De Luca, the other co-president of production. De Luca is on track to earn $2.4 million in 2014 while Minghella is set to earn $1.6 million.

Dietzel suggested that Hollywood should institute some form of affirmative action to create more opportunities for minorities. 

In some ways, this is happening. For instance, Gamechanger Films exclusively finances films directed by women. The Open Meadows Foundation offers grants up to $2,000 for projects that promote gender, racial and economic justice and are led by and benefit women.

The Celluloid Ceiling report stated women were just 7 percent of directors, 11 percent of writers, 23 percent of producers, 18 percent of editors and 5 percent of cinematographers in the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2014.

Howell said the numbers are more balanced in independent cinema because filmmakers often produce their own work, but added that the numbers are “bleak” all around. 

Producing involves a lot of organizing and multi-tasking, Hulla said, so in a society where women are socialized to be better at those tasks, it’s understandable that women excel more in producer positions.

The lack of female cinematographers can be attributed to the fact that women have to “prove with education, certification and experience” they’re worthy of the more technology-based positions, Hulla said, whereas men enjoy the “privilege where employers are automatically confident” in them.

Nikki Rodriguez, a junior studying integrated media, was a part of the Semester-in-L.A. program in the fall. There, she said she noticed gender disparity in the way people treated a female production supervisor, whom Rodriguez said she greatly respected.

“She was 4 feet tall. … She commanded the room and everybody was scared of her, but everybody respected her,” Rodriguez said. “But she would walk away and people would call her a bitch. I wonder if she was a guy, if they would say the same thing. There were plenty of guys on crew screaming into their walkie-talkies about not having their coffee. I would call him a bitch too, but who knows?”

Rodriguez said she never was able to work with or saw any female directors or cinematographers during her semester in Los Angeles. She said the lack of female representation comes from the stigma about women in leadership roles, in which they are perceived as bossy whereas men are considered aggressive.

During her first year in the MFA program, Hulla, who wants to be a writer, director and producer, said she was “hyper-aware” of being a woman in a position of power because she is concerned about being disrespected and seen as a “bitch.”

“I think that’s true of a lot of industries, but that is something that was very difficult for me to escape in my own mind,” she said.

Rodriguez said interning with HSI Productions made her want to direct music videos and commercials for a career. Despite the results of the study, she said she maintains a positive outlook on her future.

“It’s inspiring because it drives me to work harder,” she said. “It makes me look at myself and think, I’m doing something not a lot of women are represented as doing, and when I do start directing, I’m going to do it with a more socially conscious eye. … If (I do experience discrimination), I will take it in stride. If I’m the best person for that job, I’m going to get that job.”

“I thought, ‘This is odd,’” said Hulla, now a second-year graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts film production program. “I remember, I was usually one of the maybe two or three girls in my undergraduate film classes — that was always kind of very surprising for me. I didn’t really understand why. … I guess I’m so used to that gender disparity.”

She had nine male classmates and a male professor.

It’s a situation plaguing most of American cinema. Women constituted 17 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films, according to the 2014 Celluloid Ceiling report, produced by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. 

It’s the same number the study found of women working in the industry in 1998.

“There’s nothing about being female that indicates some lesser interest in this particular art form,” said Annie Howell, an associate professor of film. “Just as many people want to participate — it’s just the gates are particularly locked. The more (filmmaking) involves big business, the harder it is for women to excel.”

Howell, who is the only female professor in the Division of Film this year, said the problem stems from the power structure in Hollywood, which typically produces the films the study analyzes. 

“The history of that particular network is based in a profile that is entirely male and once that power structure is entrenched, even if there are some women there, the choices being made at the top reflect the interest and the life experience of those people,” Howell said. “This impacts who gets through the door, who gets hired and who gets financed.”

Susanne Dietzel, director of OU’s Women’s Center, said the lack of women in filmmaking roles influences the stories shown on screen.

“We’re not getting a full representation of who we are as a society because if only a few number of people are our storytellers, then we’re missing other stories,” she said. “We can’t assume the 80 percent of men who are determining what our stories are or what films get produced, that they would know what women go through and what we would like to see on the screen.”

None of the eight films nominated for Best Picture in this year’s Oscars has a female protagonist. Many were surprised at Ava DuVernay’s “snub” for Best Director for Selma, not only because she would have been the first black female director to have ever been nominated, but also because she had been nominated at the 2015 Golden Globe Awards. 

Hulla, one of the three women in the second-year MFA film class, cited a comment made by Cathy Schulman, president of Women in Film, in a blog. The organization focuses on empowering women in the entertainment and media industries.

“(Schulman) said it’s startling to me and confusing that a film is nominated for Best Picture but the director is not because I’ve never seen a film direct itself,” Hulla said. “She directly pointed to the fact that the director of Selma was not nominated and she is a woman.”

Oscar voters are 94 percent white and 76 percent male, according to The Atlantic.

When women do make it to top positions in Hollywood, they are typically paid less than their male counterparts, according to information that was leaked as part of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in late 2014.

The hack exposed alleged salaries of more than 6,000 Sony employees, including its 17 top paid executives, who all annually earn more than $1 million.

Those top executives were 88 percent white and 94 percent male. 

Amy Pascal, former co-chair of Sony Pictures and chair of Sony’s Motion Picture Group, was the only woman among the top 17 executives. She earned $3 million, the same as CEO Michael Lynton.  

The document also shows that Hannah Minghella, co-president of production at Sony’s Columbia Pictures division, makes $800,000 less per year than her male counterpart, Michael De Luca, the other co-president of production. De Luca is on track to earn $2.4 million in 2014 while Minghella is set to earn $1.6 million.

Dietzel suggested that Hollywood should institute some form of affirmative action to create more opportunities for minorities. 

In some ways, this is happening. For instance, Gamechanger Films exclusively finances films directed by women. The Open Meadows Foundation offers grants up to $2,000 for projects that promote gender, racial and economic justice and are led by and benefit women.

The Celluloid Ceiling report stated women were just 7 percent of directors, 11 percent of writers, 23 percent of producers, 18 percent of editors and 5 percent of cinematographers in the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2014.

Howell said the numbers are more balanced in independent cinema because filmmakers often produce their own work, but added that the numbers are “bleak” all around. 

Producing involves a lot of organizing and multi-tasking, Hulla said, so in a society where women are socialized to be better at those tasks, it’s understandable that women excel more in producer positions.

The lack of female cinematographers can be attributed to the fact that women have to “prove with education, certification and experience” they’re worthy of the more technology-based positions, Hulla said, whereas men enjoy the “privilege where employers are automatically confident” in them.

Nikki Rodriguez, a junior studying integrated media, was a part of the Semester-in-L.A. program in the fall. There, she said she noticed gender disparity in the way people treated a female production supervisor, whom Rodriguez said she greatly respected.

“She was 4 feet tall. … She commanded the room and everybody was scared of her, but everybody respected her,” Rodriguez said. “But she would walk away and people would call her a bitch. I wonder if she was a guy, if they would say the same thing. There were plenty of guys on crew screaming into their walkie-talkies about not having their coffee. I would call him a bitch too, but who knows?”

Rodriguez said she never was able to work with or saw any female directors or cinematographers during her semester in Los Angeles. She said the lack of female representation comes from the stigma about women in leadership roles, in which they are perceived as bossy whereas men are considered aggressive.

During her first year in the MFA program, Hulla, who wants to be a writer, director and producer, said she was “hyper-aware” of being a woman in a position of power because she is concerned about being disrespected and seen as a “bitch.”

“I think that’s true of a lot of industries, but that is something that was very difficult for me to escape in my own mind,” she said.

Rodriguez said interning with HSI Productions made her want to direct music videos and commercials for a career. Despite the results of the study, she said she maintains a positive outlook on her future.

“It’s inspiring because it drives me to work harder,” she said. “It makes me look at myself and think, I’m doing something not a lot of women are represented as doing, and when I do start directing, I’m going to do it with a more socially conscious eye. … If (I do experience discrimination), I will take it in stride. If I’m the best person for that job, I’m going to get that job.”