×

Women, People of Color Make Progress as TV Writers But Still Underrepresented in Top Jobs

Women and people of color are making progress as writers in television but systematic discrimination in hiring persists, according to the WGA West’s latest inclusion study.

Among the key findings of the WGA West’s Inclusion Report Card for the 2017-18 television season is that women and people of color remain underrepresented relative to their percentages in the U.S. population, and discrimination worsens at upper levels. The report found that 2,895 guild members were hired for writing jobs on programs airing across broadcast, cable and streaming platforms.

On TV writing staffs, people of color are mostly concentrated at lower levels. During the 2017-18 season, women made up half of staff writers, but as the job categories advance, the percentage of women in those positions dropped. Only 17% of TV executive producers were women, and only 24% of TV showrunners were women. Similarly, people of color composed 45% of staff writers, but only 12% of executive producers and 12% of showrunners.

Other statistics were similarly sobering, such as that writers with disabilities constitute less than 1% of employed TV writers, even though 56.7 million Americans identify as having a disability. Additionally, there is a near-total absence of staff writers over the age of 50, and numerous LGBTQ+ writers reported being told by agents and studio executives that they “don’t count as diverse.”

Even after being hired, 64% of writers from underrepresented groups reported bias, discrimination, and/or harassment in the workplace, according to the independent Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity.

The report did note there was some evidence of progress. As employment on TV series has doubled over the last decade, women have risen from 30% of the workforce to 35%, and people of color have increased their share from 17% to 27%.

The WGAW report ended with a call to studios and showrunners to improve the numbers for the 2019-20 TV staffing season. “With honesty, accountability, and continued effort, we can end unfair discrimination against writers and increase inclusion and equity across our industry,” the report stated.

To read the full Inclusion Report Card, click here.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Masters of the Universe: Revelation

    Kevin Smith Announces Anime 'He-Man' Series for Netflix

    Kevin Smith surprised audiences at Sunday’s annual Power-Con convention by announcing a new anime “He-Man” series for Netflix. The new series, titled “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” will take place in the Mattel toy inspired world and will focus on some of the unresolved storylines of the classic ‘80s show. Smith will serve as showrunner [...]

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content