STX currently has six films headed to theaters by the end of the year, two of which have female directors. The first is “Poms,” a comedy from Zara Hayes that arrives on May 10. But Mr. Fogelson said a few months’ worth of films did not give a sufficient assessment. By his calculation, 18 percent of all STX movies, past and present, have been (or are being) directed by women — and 14 percent have a woman as lead actor, director, producer and writer.
Widening the aperture makes the picture more positive for every studio. Disney recently released “Captain Marvel,” with Anna Boden as a director; in the works are two more Marvel films from women (“Black Widow” and “The Eternals”). Warner will release a pair of female-led superhero movies of its own in 2020 — “Wonder Woman 1984,” from Patty Jenkins, and “Birds of Prey,” from Cathy Yan. At least 10 films with female directors are in development at Paramount, including a new “Star Trek.”
The higher the financial risk, though, the less confidence decision makers have in hiring women. So, major studio films remain the slowest to embrace opportunity parity. Ms. Schulman, who is a former president of the advocacy group Women in Film, also pointed to the misconception that women are best at directing personal stories about women and romance, excluding them from opportunities to direct genres associated with men, like action, adventure, espionage, broad comedy, horror, sci-fi and others.
Martha Lauzen, the executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film and a professor at San Diego State University, cited research showing that women accounted for 8 percent of directors working on the top 250-grossing movies of 2018, down one percentage point from 1998.
“We have not seen any meaningful increase,” she said, “in the percentage of women film directors over the last 20 years.”