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Male film actors get jobs like "doctor" and "cop." Women get "receptionist" and "party girl."

If you finish watching a movie and let the ending credits scroll for a while, you’ll come across the actors who are merely identified as descriptors — "bridesmaid #1," "man in donkey suit," or "hot dog vendor."

Upon first glimpse, these roles seem inconsequential; after all, these are characters that weren’t even important enough to get names. But a deeper look at these credits reveals a dramatic difference in the roles Hollywood ascribes to female and male "day players" (actors whose roles are unnamed in the credits).

Bruce Nash, over at the Numbers, went through 160,000 acting credits from 26,000 major US movie releases dating back to the dawn of the film industry. At our request, he pulled the most common credits given to men and women in non-major roles.

Zachary Crockett / Vox

The most common roles for men were, by far, related to law and order: "cop" (or "police officer"), "guard," "detective," "sheriff," and "FBI agent" all ranked in the top 20. Other tough-guy-type roles included "thug" (or "gang member"), "doorman" (or "bouncer"), and "soldier."

Also ranking in the top 20 were positions like "doctor," "pilot," and "engineer."

Hollywood’s female actors tell a different story.

Zachary Crockett / Vox

As with men, "reporter" ranks high here. In fact, across sexes, journalism jobs ("reporter," "newscaster," "news anchor,") are the most frequent titles, appearing in a combined 366 films.

Beyond this, females are often cast as their male actors' subordinate counterparts. While men are cast as doctors, pilots, and businessmen, women fill the roles of "nurse," "flight attendant," and "receptionist." Fewer than 15 females were credited as "doctor," compared with 120 men.

Female actors also routinely enjoy such roles as "party girl" and "hooker" — the latter of which, at 43 film credits, ties with men who are cast as engineers.

Much has been written about the sexism encountered by female directors, film executives, and leading women. But a closer look tells us that no woman in Hollywood is spared, regardless of where she is in the credits.

Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to these actors as "movie extras." The correct term to refer to actors who are credited for unnamed roles (like "nurse #2") is  "day players." Movie extras are generally not listed in a film's credits.

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