Report: Minority, Female Writers in TV Still Underrepresented
Female and minority writers are still underrepresented in television, according to the statistics released Wednesday by the Writers Guild of America.
In the 2009 Hollywood Writers Report, the guild shows that women's employment in TV has remained at 28 percent from 2005 to 2007 while minority groups' share of employment declined 10 percent to 9 percent.
Among minorities, Asian TV writers' employment increased the most (from 24 people to 54) and African-American writers took the biggest hit (from 168 to 143).
The report attributed this decline, at least partially, to the closure of UPN, which was home to a number of primarily African-American series. The UPN merged with the WB in 2006 to become the CW, which employed the biggest share of minority staff/writer-producers for the 2007-2008 season. ABC owner Disney — which employs the highest number of TV writers overall — and CBS boast the largest rosters of female TV writers in the industry.
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During the 2007-2008 TV season, the report found some series still fail to employ minority or female writers altogether. Thirty-three percent of series had no minorities on staff and 11 percent of shows had no women on staff. The shows with the most minority and female writers, such as The Game and The L Word, respectively, are no longer on the air.
For TV writing staff positions, the news was slightly better for minority writers. Their share of all staff/writer-producer positions increased slightly during the 2007-2008 season in comparison to the 2005-06 season. For TV comedies in particular, minority writers held an equal chance of working on comedies but women were less likely to work on the staff. As far as leadership positions, both female and minority writers were half as likely as their white male counterparts to be showrunners on a series.
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The report noted that both minority and female writers have narrowed the earnings gap with white males but a notable difference still exists among these three groups. The report states minority writers earned $75,658 and women took home $82,604 in 2007, compared to $87,984 for white men.
The report notes that female and minority representation remains dismal compared to the demographics of the nation's population. In the U.S., more than half of the population is female and almost one-third is non-white.
"Breaking out of the stagnation in writer diversity ... will require bold, new approaches," the report states. "Only then will we begin to make appreciable progress toward catching up with a changing America. Only then will we move closer to making sure that all of our stories are told."