​Numbers of women and minority TV writers declined last year

newwgalogostackcolor 600xx570-379-0-82Not only has very little has changed in the hiring of women and minority television writers over the 2013-14 season, but the situation has become worse from the previous year, according to findings from the Writers Guild of America, West.

In its latest report, the guild found that women writers accounted for 29 percent of TV staff employment during the 2013-14 season, down from 30.5 percent in 2011-12. Minorities accounted for 13.7 percent of TV staff employment, down from 15.6 percent in 2011-12.

“Over the years, the fortunes of diverse writers in the television sector have ebbed and flowed,” said the report’s author, Dr. Darnell M. Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and professor of sociology. “While the general pattern consists of an upward trajectory in diverse sector employment, the rate of progress has failed to keep pace with the rapid diversification of the nation’s population.”

Despite incremental gains in TV employment by minority and women writers over the past decade, the 2013-14 season saw minority and women writers’ share of TV staff employment decline across the board. Overall, minority TV writer staffing levels remain disproportionate to actual minority demographics of the U.S. population, as diverse writers continue to be substantially underrepresented on TV writing staffs as a whole, the report said.

“This is significant not only in terms of employment opportunity but also in terms of industry bottom-line considerations,” Hunt added. “Indeed, research is beginning to confirm the common-sense notion that increasingly diverse audiences desire more diverse storytelling. When diverse voices are marginalized or missing altogether in the writers’ room, it is less likely that the stories told will hit the mark.”

The WGAW’s 2015 report examines employment patterns for nearly 3,000 writers working on close to 300 TV shows airing on 36 broadcast and cable networks during the 2013-14 season, highlighting three specific groups who have traditionally been underemployed in industry: women, minorities and older writers.

The report found that minority writers continue to staff 60-minute shows more often than 30-minute shows.During the 2013-2014 season, 61.2 percent of minority staff writers worked on 60-minute shows, while only 38.2 percent worked on 30-minute shows. Multiracial writers and Latino writers were among the most likely minority writers to staff 60-minute shows – 69.6 percent of the time (48 writers) and 65.3 percent of the time (49 writers), respectively.

It also found that writing staffs remain less diverse for programming such as late night, talk and game shows. Women occupied only 18 percent of these type of programming staff positions (compared with 29 percent overall) and minorities claimed only 3.5 percent of these positions (compared with 13.7 percent overall). Women were underrepresented by a factor of nearly 3 to 1 in other programming staff positions and minorities by nearly 11 to 1.

Minorities occupied only 5.5 percent of the executive producer positions during the 2013-14 season, down from 7.8 percent in 2011-12.

In addition, minorities were underrepresented by a factor of more than 2 to 1 among writers staffing shows at the major broadcast networks. Minorities claimed 16.1 percent of the positions at ABC, 14.2 percent of the positions at NBC, 13.9 percent of the positions at Fox, and just 11.3 percent of the positions at CBS (where minorities were underrepresented by a factor of more than 3 to 1 among writers).

Click here to read the full WGAW 2015 TV Staffing Brief.