Hollywood\’s Ongoing Problem With Women

A new study shows that the number of women in power in TV has stalled in recent years.

ABC / Via picslist.com

A new study showed that, despite public outrage over the underrepresentation of women in Hollywood, the actual number of women in positions of power nonetheless stalled in the 2014–2015 television year. Indeed, the percentages of female creators, producers, executive producers, directors, writers, editors, and directors of photography working in television have not changed all that much since the first annual Boxed In report in 1997–1998.

The study from San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film also found that shows with at least one female executive producer or creator tended to have more women in other key positions, suggesting that women were more likely than men to hire women.


For shows with at least one female creator, 49% of writers were women. For shows with no female creators, 15% of writers were women.

For shows with at least one female creator, 49% of writers were women. For shows with no female creators, 15% of writers were women.

Ariane Lange / BuzzFeed

The study also found that on programs with at least one woman creator, women were 18% of directors and 37% of editors. On programs with only male creators, women were 10% of directors and 13% of editors.

“If you can get women in those very important gatekeeping roles — or in film, this would be film directors — then you’re going to see more women not only onscreen, but also in important roles behind the scenes as well,” Martha Lauzen, Ph.D., told BuzzFeed News on the phone. Lauzen, the executive director of the center, also wrote in an email to BuzzFeed News that the study looked at about 230 programs that appeared on broadcast and cable networks and Netflix in 2014–2015. More than 3,500 behind-the-scenes individuals were considered, as well as more than 3,500 on-screen characters, she wrote.

While the report doesn’t look at causality, Lauzen said the findings indicate “that women have a different hiring sensibility than men do. I wouldn’t even necessarily say that’s conscious.”

However, some women in gatekeeping positions do intentionally set out to hire and write more women and people of color — Lauzen cited Mara Brock Akil, who created Being Mary Jane and was an executive producer on Girlfriends, and Shonda Rhimes, who created Thursday.

Despite what Lauzen called a “cacophony of voices” calling for more women behind the scenes — and a lot of media coverage of women who have found success in Hollywood — men still dominate the television landscape.


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