Women in TV Production Levels Off, SDSU Study Reports

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The once increasing role of women in television production has leveled off in recent years, according to a study released Tuesday by San Diego State University.

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In her 18th annual report from the SDSU Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, professor Martha Lauzen said the percentage of women in front of and behind the camera was about the same on broadcast, cable and Netflix programs in 2014-15 as the previous year.

“There is a perception gap between how people think women are faring in television, both on screen and behind the scenes, and their actual employment,” Lauzen said. “We are no longer experiencing the incremental growth we saw in the late 1990s and 2000s.”

About 42 percent of speaking characters in the 2014-15 television season were women, the same as the year before, according to the study. Lauzen said the figure is 3 percent higher than the 1997-98 season.

Programs on ABC had the highest percentage of female characters, 45 percent, followed by The CW at 43 percent. Among genres, women comprised 47 percent of characters on reality programs, 41 percent in situation comedies and 40 percent in dramas.

The study showed that female characters were generally younger than their male counterparts, and the percentage of women characters dropped faster than men as they aged.

Behind the scenes, women accounted for 27 percent of creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and directors of photography working on broadcast programs, Lauzen said. When cable and Netflix programming is figured in, 25 percent of those working in those roles are female.

The study found that 38 percent of producers were women. Females also made up 26 percent of writers and executive producers, 23 percent of creators, 21 percent of editors, 14 percent of directors and 2 percent of directors of photography.

Widgets Magazine

The professor said that on broadcast programs with no women executive producers, females accounted for 37 percent of major characters. On programs with at least one woman executive producer, females comprised 43 percent of major characters.

On broadcast programs with no women executive producers, women accounted for 6 percent of writers. On programs with at least one woman executive producer, women comprised 32 percent of writers.

“The findings suggest that creators and executive producers play an instrumental role in shifting the gender dynamics for both on-screen characters and other individuals working in powerful behind-the-scenes roles,” Lauzen said.

—City News Service

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