In the past weeks, Hollywood's dirty open secret of sexual harassment by powerful men has led to a landslide of resignations and terminations. The casting couch mentality is still prevalent in the entertainment industry. It is not exclusive to the United States as many stories are surfacing in South Korea about directors abusing actresses with non-agreed sex scenes in productions.
Sexism is a prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex. This happens frequently in the choices producers make in casting and developing series.
In LOST, the character of Kate Austen was supposed to be the main focal point. She was the one with the troubled background who would become the leader of the 815 survivors. It would have been interesting to see her use her charms to manipulate the male characters to do her bidding (like she did in her flashback crime sprees). In some ways, her character could have been on a parallel track with that of Ben.
But after shooting the pilot, the producers dramatically changed direction. Jack Shephard, the good looking, caring doctor was supposed to be killed to show the "reality" and danger that the island posed to the survivors. But since Matthew Fox had a previous network series with some fan following, the producers decided to make him the lead character instead of newcomer Evangeline Lilly.
It is not that a female character could not lead a network series. For seven seasons, an actress led the crew of Star Trek Voyager on a dangerous quest to return home from the Delta Quadrant. Kate Mulgrew, a stage actress, could command the center stage of the bridge. She could be tough, decisive and kind or introspective during an episode. No viewer questioned her competency as captain because she was a woman.
The leader of a star ship or band of castaways on a remote island controls how a series can unfold its stories. It can show more growth from an underdog character such as a small town woman in Kate who has to learn on the job, balance the inequities and fight the demons of prior prejudices against her. Jack's character had already garnered respect as a talented surgeon from his colleagues and patients. He was used to being in charge of a group in the operating room. His growth as an island leader would not be as great as it would have with Kate.
LOST could have been a totally different series if the original plan of Kate was the 815 leader instead of her secondary role as being a supporter of whatever man she needed to use to continue her own personal survival.