Women in primetime television are losing ground in many areas in front of and behind the cameras, according to a new study. In 2013-14, women comprised 27% of all people working as creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography – a decrease of 3.5% from the previous season. The 17th annual “Boxed In” study (read it here) was conducted by San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.
On screen, the percentage of female characters with speaking roles declined 2.3%, down from 43% of all speaking roles last season to 42% this season – even lower than the percentage of women with speaking roles in the 2007-08 season. Again proving that male actors continue to dominate the television landscape, the report found that 44% of programs studied employed four or fewer women, compared with only 1% of programs that employed four or fewer men.
“For many years, women have experienced slow but incremental growth both as characters on screen and working in key positions behind the scenes,” said Dr. Martha Lauzen, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. “However, that progress, small though it was, now appears to have stalled. However, when women are employed behind the scenes, they make a difference.”
Indeed, women producers made the greatest strides. During the 2013-14 season, they filled 43% of all producer jobs, up 13% over last season. Female creators and executive producers, however, lost ground. Females accounted for 20% of all creators this season, down nearly 17% from last season, while the number of female executive producers, who account for 23% of those jobs, declined by 15%. Women writers took the biggest hit. This season, they made up 25% of the writing workforce, which is down 26% from last season, when they accounted for over a third of all primetime TV writers.
The number of female directors of photography also decreased dramatically – down 50% this season over last, though from a much smaller statistical pool. The study found that last season, 2% of all DPs were women; this season it was down to 1%.
Women directors and editors made significant gains. This year, females accounted for 13% of all directors, a 7.7% increase. Females accounted for 17% of all editing jobs this season, a gain of 5.9%.