Citing steady gains for women and underrepresented TV writers over the past five years, the latest WGA West Inclusion Report released Friday said that “If these trends continue, women and people of color could achieve parity in TV employment within the next two years.” The report, however, noted that “In spite of this progress, systemic discrimination against writers from underrepresented groups remains pervasive in the entertainment industry.”
“At a painful time in our nation’s history, we must be determined to put an end to practices, policies, and systems that prevent any one group from progress,” said Tery Lopez, the guild’s director of inclusion and equity.
According to the report, women accounted for 44% of the 2,717 TV writing jobs during the 2019-20 TV season across all network, cable and streaming platforms, while 35% of the writing jobs went to people of color. “A look at hiring over the last 10 years reveals a trend of steady gains made by women and people of color,” the report found. “In each of the last four TV seasons, both groups increased their share of TV writing jobs, gaining 2% in the 2017-18 season, 3% in the 2018-19 season, and 5% in the 2019-20 season.”
In fact, the percentage gains for women and underrepresented TV writers last year, for instance, were much greater than the 5% cited by the guild. For while each group posted increases of five percentage points, the actual percentage increase of women writers (from 39% to 44%) is 12.8%. Similarly, the five percentage point increase posted by underrepresented writers (from 30% to 35%) actually represents a 16.6% increase. (As an example, an increase from 9% to 10%, while just an increase of one percentage point, is actually an increase of 11.1%.)
And those percentage increases, if they continue, could achieve the kind of parity that the guild says could be coming in the next two years if these trends continue.
Read the full report here.
The report, however, found that the percentage of female and underrepresented screenwriters employed on feature films continues to lag behind those working in television. Of more than 2,000 screenwriters employed in 2019, the report found that “only 27% were women and just 20% were people of color,” while women of color accounted for only 7% of employed screenwriters last year. Even so, the report found that “Writers from underrepresented groups have made some gains.”
The report states that “In motion pictures, women gained 4% and people of color gained 2%,” but once again conflated the lower percentage point increases for what were actually much higher percentage increases.
The report also found that ageism is still a factor in hiring. “Writers over 55 are subject to the same ageism that pervades all of Hollywood. Despite making up 29% of the total U.S. population and roughly 22% of the U.S. labor force, people over 55 accounted for only 18% of screenwriters employed in 2019 and just 12% of TV writers employed in the 2019-2020 TV season.” Finding that “Ageism in TV increases at the middle and lower levels,” the report said that “of writers at the level of Supervising Producer or below in the 2019-2020 season, just 1% were over 55.”
The report also found that LGBTQ+ writers “have achieved representation on par with their numbers in the overall U.S. population” but cautioned that “adequate representation does not mean LGBTQ+ writers no longer face discrimination. The Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity’s 2020 ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ report provides evidence that LGBTQ+ writers experience the same forms of bias and harassment faced by other underrepresented groups.”
The guild, which is currently in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers for a new film and TV contract, says that it “urges all studios, showrunners, producers, executives, agents, and managers to use the information provided in this report to adjust their business practices to work toward solutions. The report’s conclusions also underscore the urgency of the Guild’s proposals to the AMPTP on furthering inclusion and equity.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.