Showrunners are at many times the people who create the TV shows. But at all times they are the ones who keep things moving forward and lay out the vision and run the writer's room. They are in charge.
The Hollywood Reporter put together a list of the top TV showrunner and SURPRISE -- not -- there aren't too many females on the list. It's also interesting to note that when women appear on the list they are usually in partnership, and most of those partnerships are with guys.
Here's the criteria for getting on the list: direct responsibility for day to day creative output; how prolific they are; ratings; critical and/or award praise and reputation.
Here are the women:
Liz Brixius & Linda Wallem - "Nurse Jackie" (Showtime)
Tina Fey & Robert Carlock - "30 Rock" (NBC)
Brenda Hampton - "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" (ABC Family)
Michelle King & Robert King - "The Good Wife" (CBS)
Jenji Kohan - "Weeds" (Showtime)
Carol Mendelsohn, Ann Donahue and Pam Veasey - "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "CSI: Miami," "CSI: New York" (CBS)
Shonda Rhimes - "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice," "Off the Map" (ABC)
Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage - "Chuck" (NBC), "Gossip Girl" (CW)
David Shore & Katie Jacobs - "House" (Fox)
Janet Tamaro - "Rizzoli & Isles" (TNT)
Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec - "The Vampire Diaries" (CW)
Just to show how totally male centric this area of the business is, in the sidebar that discussed how people got on the list they included the following:
The Godfathers: Not included on the list but just as influential are major executive producers like J.J. Abrams, Jerry Bruckheimer, John Wells, Dick Wolf and Anthony Zuiker. They impact TV as much as anyone on the showrunner list.