The latest study on women in front of the camera finds that female characters are still significantly under-represented on the big screen.

The numbers underscore why pics like "Gravity" (pictured), toplined by a Sandra Bullock, remain a rarity at the multiplexes. Female characters accounted for only 15% of protagonists in the 100 highest-grossing domestic films of 2013, according to the study "It's a Man's (Celluloid) World" by veteran researcher Martha Lauzen, exec director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State U.

FULL REPORT: "It's a Man's (Celluloid) World"

The femme protagonist stats are up 4% from 2011, the last time the survey was conducted, but down 1% from 2002.

Female actors accounted for 30% of all speaking parts in the survey, which has examined some 7,000 screen characters across 300 pics since 2002. Only about 13% of 2013′s top 100 pics featured an equal number of female and male characters.

"Overall, we have seen little movement in the numbers of female protagonists and females as speaking characters over the last decade," Lauzen said. "Moreover, female characters are less likely than males to have identifiable goals or to be portrayed as leaders of any kind ."

The numbers for minority females are even lower. African-American female representation on screen climbed to 14%, from 8% in 2011, but down from 15% in 2012. Hispanic characters were flat fro 2011 at 5% and up from 4% in 2002. Asian-American female characters are few and far between, accounting for 3% in 2013, down from 5% in 2011.

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