Women and minority writers are losing ground in film while notching only modest gains in TV, according to the WGA West’s latest comprehensive survey of employment for its members.
Female writers accounted for 15% of feature film work in 2012, the latest year tracked in the survey, down from 17% in 2009. Minority writers remained stuck at 5% of film jobs, unchanged from 2009, but the survey shows minority writer earnings declined over the same period even as paydays for white male writers increased.
In TV, minority employment reached 11% in 2012, the highest level in a decade. Female employment dipped to 27%, down 1% from 2009, while the earnings gap between male and female writers closed ever so slightly (by 1 cent in 2012 compared to 2009) to 92 cents for every dollar earned by males.
The report is part of the WGA West’s effort to bring attention to the relatively low levels of female and minority writer representation in the mainstream film and TV biz. The full report, “Turning Missed Opportunities Into Realized Ones: The 2014 Hollywood Writers Report,” will be published in June.
“The good news is that, since the last report published in 2011, there appears to have been small gains for women and minorities in television employment and earnings – though both groups still have quite a way to go to reach parity with their white male counterparts,” said the author Darnell M. Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and professor of sociology.
“The story for film, unfortunately, is not so good,” he added. “Since the last report, there has been no progress for either group. Indeed, relative to white males, women and minorities have lost ground in the sector.”
The report showed that the gender earnings gap in film has widened with women film writers earning 77 cents for every dollar earned by white male film writers in 2012, down from 82 cents in 2009.
“There is still a major disconnect between the percentage of minority writers employed in television and film and the U.S. population, as minorities accounted for nearly 37 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, and by 2012 the majority of babies born in the United States were non-white,” the report noted.
Hunt’s report noted that minorities watch a disproportionate share of TV and theatrical films, while increases in their consumer spending outpace the rest of the nation.
The report also showed that older writers – particularly those in the 41 to 50 group – claimed the largest share of employment and the highest earnings in TV and film but noted that the relative status of older writers tends to decline rather rapidly beyond the age of 60.