Study Confirms That Primetime TV Is Getting Tougher for Women

poehler feySan Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film recently released the results of their 17th annual “Boxed In” study, which analyzes how many women are working behind and in front of the camera in the entertainment world. In the primetime television sphere, women saw more decline than progress during the 2013-2014 season, falling 3.5% from last year in the number of women working as creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography. Also down this season are the number of women working onscreen with a 2.3% slip (from 43% last season to 42% this season) as well as the number of programs that employ four or fewer women — a whopping 44% of all the primetime shows included in the study. Conversely, only 1% of the shows studied employed four or fewer men. On the upside, sitcoms came out on top with the highest percentage of female characters at 46%, compared to 44% on reality shows and 39% on dramas.

“For many years, women have experienced slow but incremental growth both as characters on screen and working in key positions behind the scenes,” said San Diego State’s Dr. Martha Lauzen. “However, that progress, small though it was, now appears to have stalled. However, when women are employed behind the scenes, they make a difference.” While the onscreen decline of women is clear, there was some progress in the number of women working 13% more producer jobs (43% total), 7.7% more director jobs (13% total), and 5.9% more editing jobs (17% total) compared to last year. But in all other behind-the-scenes fields — show creators (down 17%), executive producers (down 15%), directors of photography (down 50%), and most notably writers (down 26%) — the study found that this season is far from a progressive one for women. Add on the fact that every current major network late night host is a man, and it looks like women still have a long road until they reach true equality in the television world. Check out the full study here.

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