The WGA has found that “systematic discrimination against writers from historically underrepresented groups remains pervasive in the hiring of television writers.” The guild, however, also found “some evidence of progress: As writer employment on TV series has doubled over the last decade, women have increased from 30% to 35% of the work force, while persons of color have increased their share from 17% to 27%.”
Even so, “Women and persons of color remain underrepresented relative to their percentages in the overall U.S. population, and discrimination worsens at upper employment levels,” according to the WGA West’s Inclusion Report Card for the 2017-18 staffing season. “On writing staffs, persons of color are mostly concentrated at lower levels. In 2018, only 24% of TV showrunner roles were held by women – and only 12% were held by persons of color.”
See the full report here.
Disabled writers face even more profound discrimination, the report found. “Despite the fact that 56.7 million Americans identify as disabled, writers with disabilities make up less than 1% of employed TV writers.”
The guild also said that “writers over 50 face the same ageism in TV staffing that pervades all of Hollywood – and the near-total absence of staff writers over 50 is clear evidence of systemic age discrimination.”
While data on LGBTQ+ writers is based on self-identification, the guild says that numerous LGBTQ+ writers “report being told by agents and studio executives that they ‘don’t count as diverse.’ The WGA West maintains that LGBTQ+ writers are, without question, members of a historically underrepresented group who are still fighting for equal rights and continue to face hiring discrimination in the entertainment industry and around the world.”
The report also found that “discrimination does not end with hiring,” According to the independent Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity’s report titled “WGAW Includion Repord Card; 2017-2018 Staffing Season,” “64% of writers from historically underrepresented groups reported bias, discrimination, and/or harassment in the workplace.”
Despite recent progress, the report card shows that the entertainment industry’s problems are far from being solved. “To remedy the issue and achieve real change, the guild urges all studios and showrunners to continue being part of the solution by improving upon 2018’s numbers in the 2019 TV staffing season. With honesty, accountability, and continued effort, we can end unfair discrimination against writers and increase inclusion and equality across our industry.”
The report is based on data from the 2017-18 TV staffing season, when writers were hired for 2,985 jobs in television, across network, cable, and streaming platforms.