The earnings gap between minority and femme TV writers and their white male counterparts has widened in recent years, according to the WGA West’s latest report on scribe employment trends.
In film, however, that gap has narrowed.
Median earnings for female television writers hit $98,600, $9,400 below that of white male scribes and $13,925 above minority TV writers. TV gender gap is up 84% since the last WGA report, issued in 2009, which found a difference of $5,109 in 2007.
At $55,653, median earnings for minority writers in film fell below white male and female wages at $76,517 and $62,500, respectively.
The guild’s “Hollywood Writers Report: Recession and Regression” analyzed employment data for writers and earnings by ethnicity, gender and age from 2008 through 2009. While the overall hiring of minority writers in TV has increased since the 2009 survey — up to 10% of all TV scribes, from 9% — the earnings gap more than doubled, representing the widest difference in a decade. Minority share of film employment, meanwhile, declined from 6% to 5%, its lowest level in a decade.
Overall, femme scribes’ share of industry employment dropped one percentage point to 24%, in part because of a slight decline in female writers for film from 18% to 17% between 2007 and 2009.
“White males continued to dominate employment opportunities and earnings in both the film and television sectors,” the report concludes.
Writers between ages 41 and 50 made up the largest group of scribes in the business, although their employment rate remained flat at 61%. Scribes under 31 declined by four percentage points. TV writers 51-60 declined by 1% while writers 61-70 increased by 1%.
Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and professor of sociology at UCLA, authored the report. “Diversity is not a luxury, not even in tough times,” Hunt said in a statement issued by the guild. “The Hollywood industry, in the final analysis, depends on increasingly diverse audiences and on the stories to which they can relate.”
Report reasoned that the financial crisis of 2008 did not help close divisions among writers.
“The road toward economic justice in America is a windy one, and progress has been most direct in good economic times,” the report stated. “As the nation grappled with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the few hopeful signs for women and minority writers discussed in the previous report either disappeared or seemed considerably less encouraging by 2009.”
Data showed that the number of produced theatrical films in the U.S. declined by 25.5% between 2007 and 2009 from 909 to 677. WGA saw an increase in unemployed writers from 45.8% in 2007 to 48.4% in 2009.
WGAW will make the full report, the eighth in a series issued since 1987, available in late summer.
Org also highlighted its Writer Access Project, launched in 2009. Program aims to address “stagnation” in the increase of diverse television writers. Program is a script-judging contest designed to identify mid-level writers.