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WGA Releases Annual Writing Report And Women Make Small Progress

Women and Hollywood By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood March 28, 2013 at 2:00PM

The Writers Guild West released its annual diversity report on the status of women, minority and older writers. Hollywood continues to make incremental, pathetic, baby steps towards diversity. The numbers show that in a little over a decade from 1999 to 2011, women have increased their positions just 5 percentage points from 25% to 30%.
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The Writers Guild West released its annual diversity report on the status of women, minority and older writers.  Hollywood continues to make incremental, pathetic, baby steps towards diversity.  The numbers show that in a little over a decade from 1999 to 2011, women have increased their positions just 5 percentage points from 25% to 30%.

Here's from their overview:

Findings from the 2013 WGAW TV Staffing Brief show that — despite a few pockets of promise — much more work must be done on the television diversity front before the corps of writers telling our stories looks significantly more like us as a nation. Recently, women writers have made small gains in overall staff employment and in executive producer positions but remain significantly underrepresented among writers staffing television shows.

Here are the numbers: For the 2011-2012 season a total of 1722 writers worked on 190 broadcast and cable television shows.  519 of those positions were held by women.

Writers are defined (in order of power status) as Executive Producers, Co-Executive Producers, Supervising Producers, Producer, Co-Producer, Executive Story Editor, Story Editor, Executive Consultant, Script Coordinator, Consulting Producer, Staff Writer, Freelance Writer.

Most shows have multiple writers in a variety of positions.  In the top position, Executive Producer, 344 of the positions, 75.8% were held by white men.  Women made up 18.6% of the Executive Producers.  

Women fare much better in leadership positions on cable.  BET (55 percent), ABC Family (49.2 percent), Lifetime (46.7 percent), Nickelodeon (42.9 percent), and MTV (42.1 percent).  

And the top shows employing women are: MTV’s Awkward (83.3 percent), Nickelodeon’s The Fresh Beat Band; (83.3 percent), BET’s Let’s Stay Together (83.3 percent), VH1’s Single Ladies (80 percent), and Showtime’s The Big C (71.4 percent).  Not surprisingly, all those shows have female showrunners.  Lauren Iungerich (Awkward), Nadine Van Der Velde (The Fresh Beat Band), Jacque Edmonds Cofer (Let's Stay Together), Stacy A. Littlejohn (Single Ladies - she departed after season 2), and Darlene Hunt (The Big C.)

The good news.  Here are the shows that have over 50% women writers:

2 Broke Girls; 90210; Army Wives; Awkward; Big C, The; Castle; Client List, The; Don't Trust the B; Fresh Beat Band, The; Glades; Good Wife; Gossip Girl; Grey's Anatomy; Hart of Dixie; Killing, The; League, The; Let's Stay Together; Make It Or Break It; Melissa & Joey; Parenthood; Private Practice; Rizzoli and Isles; Secret Circle; Secret Life of the American Teenager; Southland; Touch; Unforgettable.

And the bad news.  There are still shows that do not have a single female writer. These are the shows that employ no women.  (I took out shows that only had a single writer)  These shows employ not a single female writer:

Kickin' It, America's Funniest Home Videos, Big Time Rush, Californification, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Eagleheart, Futurama, Locke & Key, Magic City, Psych, Teen Wolf, Veep, Workaholics I, Workaholics II.

And these shows employ 10% or under:

Allen Gregory, Burn Notice, How To Be A Gentleman, The Simpsons

The report also states that discrimination begins early in the process with pilot orders.  When they examined the pilots for the 2010-11 season only 24% had one woman writer attached.  From my understanding there is usually a single writer or maybe two for a pilot.  No staff has yet been hired since the show has not been picked up.  So that means that only 24% of shows being considered had a female creator/writer.

So much work to do.

WGAW 2013 TV Staffing Brief (WGAW)

This article is related to: Women Writers, Statistics, Television