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12 September 2018

Only 10% of U.S. TV Programmes Directed by Women

Now in its 21st year, the Boxed In study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film provides the most comprehensive historical record of women’s representation and employment in U.S. television available. Overall, the numbers are down this year.

Behind the scenes, women accounted for 27% of all creators, directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors, and directors of photography, a decline of 1% from 2016-17. Overall, programmes employed behind-the-scenes women in relatively small numbers. For example, 69% of programmes employed five or fewer women in the roles considered. In contrast, only 13% of programmes employed five or fewer men.

Women fared best as producers (39%), followed by writers (27%). They comprised 26% of executive producers, 25% of creators, and 19% of editors. Women only accounted for 10% of directors and 3% of directors of photography.

On-screen, females comprised 40% of all speaking characters on dramas, comedies, and reality programmes appearing on the broadcast networks, premium and basic cable channels, and on streaming services. This represents a decline of 2% from 42% in 2016-17. Sixty-eight percent of programmes featured casts with more male than female characters in 2017-18. Eleven percent had ensembles with equal numbers of female and male characters, and 21% featured casts with more female than male characters.

Across all platforms, the percentage of Latina characters in speaking roles reached a historical high in 2017-18, accounting for 7% of all female characters (up from 5% in 2016-17), but they remain the most underrepresented ethnic group when compared to their representation in the U.S. population. Black characters remained steady at 19% of all female characters, and the percentage of Asian females remained unchanged at 6%.

Download the report here.