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WGA Releases Annual Writing Report And Women Make Small Progress

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by Melissa Silverstein
March 28, 2013 2:00 PM
5 Comments
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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)

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5 Comments

  • William James | June 26, 2013 6:19 AMReply

    Wonderful post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more annual report writer? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thanks!

  • Panger | April 21, 2013 5:34 PMReply

    No women writers on Californication?

    I'm SHOCKED.

  • Smith | April 17, 2013 3:49 AMReply

    Hi Melissa Silverstein,
    Great post. It's a generosity of sharing good value of information to us on annual report copywriting . Thank you.

  • rahi | April 13, 2013 2:43 AMReply

    I like your annual report writer skills.

  • Lehcar | March 28, 2013 3:55 PMReply

    Thank you for this article! It's informative to see the statistics and realities of the industry. This information motivates me to pursue writing - specifically because we have "so much work to do", indeed.

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