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Picky Actresses Are More Successful

Update Date: Mar 12, 2015 06:58 PM EDT
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Actresses need to be pickier than actors to succeed in Hollywood, according to a new study.

To survive Hollywood, actresses need to be pickier than actors, researchers explained.

After analyzing Internet Movie Database (IMDb) data from more than a million performances in almost 100,000 actors and actresses in the American film industry, researchers found that diversity saves careers. The study revealed that working more often with less connected and more diverse groups can help women succeed in Hollywood.

"The career opportunities for actresses are more likely to dwindle if they work in homogeneous teams," lead researcher Mark Lutter, the head of the "Transnational Diffusion of Innovation" Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG) in Germany, said in a news release.

Researchers noted that the risk of career decline is even greater when actresses try to break into the boys club. Working in groups that feature a large proportion of men in senior positions and in male-dominated film genres were linked to quicker career declines among female actors.

"I suspect that women suffer when they are frequently part of homogeneous teams because they might enjoy a much lower degree of active support from mentors than men, and their professional friendship networks might also give them access to fewer contacts in positions of power," Lutter said. "This would mean that they are likely excluded from important sources of information about future projects."

"So rather than relying on close circles and personal friendships, women should focus on developing diverse networks of relationships outside their own circle," added Lutter. "By and large, they should take a more strategic, considered approach to their decisions concerning future projects if they want their careers to benefit."

"In this day and age, work very often takes place in project teams, the film industry being a prime example," Lutter said. "Those involved in filmmaking move along from project to project -- working together for a limited period of time and then going their separate ways -- like many freelancers in the creative professions, but also not unlike many people working for larger corporations. My research highlights strategies women can use to increase their visibility in these job markets, as well as steps employers interested in advancing women's careers can take when creating project teams."

The findings are published in the journal American Sociological Review.

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